SHORT FILM REVIEW: A Bad Feeling
A BAD FEELING— 4 STARS
Star Wars fans will quickly have their sensors triggered when they note the title of this short film from Charlotte Barrett and Sean Fallon, the team behind 2011’s Virgin Alexander. It is a nod to a running gag that is said as often in Star Wars films as the classic line “May the Force be with you.” The phrase alludes to a character’s audible dread and the heebie-jeebies warning of something awful, visible or invisible, on their horizon. The characters in those movie moments say it and mean it. In A Bad Feeling, the husband and wife central figures know their trouble, entirely feel it, but don’t announce their fears when they should.
The lingering destructive force in question for Karen and Jim, a spousal unit of Star Wars cosplayers played by American Horror Story actress Lily Rabe and prolific TV character actor Eric Laden, is something very real and not from a galaxy far, far away. It’s miscarriage. They are sitting in the parking lot of a convention center in full costumes a day after the loss of an unborn child. Eye contact isn’t happening as they struggle to discuss where they are in each other’s headspace.
Karen is reeling and all of Jim’s feeble attempts at conversation only seem to dig holes deeper. Neither want to go home and they talk themselves up into hitting the convention floor. He keeps trying to make the best of it, memorabilia hunting, posing for pictures, and scoring autographs from the likes of Star Trek’s Robert Picardo and Rosana DeSoto (nice cameos). She, however, is in malaise of increasing frustration that manifests in little daydreamed moments of harsher penalties towards Jim.
LESSON #1: THE REALITIES OF MISCARRIAGE — For those expectant parents who have experienced one of the 10–25% of pregnancies that reach this unfortunate end, you know what Karen and Jim are feeling. You know the sudden grief. You know the physical aftermath like a D&C and the bleeding. You know exactly how impossible the smallest things become for a while and how that can fracture a loving relationship. For those that don’t, look up an article or two and have your eyes opened wider than the widescreen scrolling title crawl.
LESSON #2: SAY WHAT YOU HONESTLY FEEL — As hinted at earlier in the opening paragraph, we have two people not saying what they mean when they need to. They fear that the spoken truth will hurt more than it does being suppressed and ignored. To paraphrase Darth Vader, their “thoughts betray them.” Jim catches on to the empathy and patience he’s missing and expresses himself better. Karen finds a safe way and place to vent her bottled emotions to a prepared and listening ear. Honesty brings compromise and that’s this couple’s first real step forward.
Even with the constricted communication of Lesson #2, A Bad Feeling speaks its own volumes. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Film Invasion LA and the Jury Award of the Pensacon Short Film Festival, these are thirteen minutes of sheer bravery from to present comedy alongside such a heavy topic as miscarriage. Pristine and intimate cinematography from Aaron Meister (Sushi Girl) stays tight on the lead duo while soaking up the chatter-filled ambiance of the comic-con location. Much appreciation is earned by Sean Fallon and Charlotte Burnett to deal with this weight in a frank, honest, and tidy fashion. Even in contracted form, the timing and pacing is excellent. This festival short is unafraid to reach a point of returned love while dropping a real “I know” to follow. See it for yourself.