2017 Chicago Irish Film Festival: Shorts Program


Kerri, played by Naseen Morgan, is a young woman preparing to step under the lights for an open mic night at a local pub.  Her guitar is ready, and the disc jockey has her music all queued up.  Her phone rings and she hesitates.  Kerri waves off the DJ to stall so she can take the call.  What she sees is an incoming video call from her own phone number.

When Kerri picks up, she sees a video of herself telling her “don’t go on the stage.”  It’s not a recording.  She can interact with it.  How can that be?  Well, that’s the tantalizing rub of the short film “Incoming Call” written and directed by Eoin Cleland.

As it turns out, Kerri is receiving video calls from her future self.  The shared contact is meant to share advice to help avoid mistakes, but it doesn’t always turn out that way.  Cleland outlines subtle swerves of repercussions.  

“Incoming Call” has a dynamite premise that would make for a fascinating nugget of science fiction.  The possible latitude one could take with the idea of warning the past about the future is endless, and we’ve seen it blown out of proportion in elaborate time travel films and boisterous blockbusters.  This film keenly distills and scales that down to microcosm level of a single person and the matter of picking up the phone.

The beginnings of playing on that premise are wholly present, even on this small short film scale.  With hesitancy, the next gear of mood or suspense is missing.  Cleland and company do not quite make the full jump into the pool of possibilities that could pack a bigger punch and raise a higher eyebrow of subversion.  “Incoming Call” certainly and smartly will keep you watching, but it will leave you wanting more, not just clarity, but commitment.

LESSON #1: WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOURSELF IN THE PAST IF YOU COULD-- Once again, this short film’s premise is exciting.  I think we have all kicked this second-guessing wish in our heads more than a few times in our lives.  How far back would you fix something?  What would you say?  How much would you tell?  What would you not correct?  All of those woulda-coulda-shouldas are doozy questions to rack your brain on.

LESSON #2: THE NEED FOR SELF-MOTIVATION-- I’d like to think that what future Kerri is trying to do is not only correct the errors that come upon her worry wart self, but instill a missing sense of self-motivation.  Talking to yourself in this impossible way makes for quite a literal form of self-motivation, but it counts.