Directed by Ryan Haysom
Short film is a criminally underappreciated form of film. Outside of film festivals and the occasional pairing with a feature film they get very little exposure. You need to put effort into seeking out these films, and it can be a very satisfying venture. Yellow is an example of a film worth hunting down, though it is not without its faults.
The plot of the film follows a detective (Stephen M. Gilbert) who is haunted by a serial killer who is still on the loose. The murders committed cast a shadow over every moment of his life as he crawls closer to solving the mystery of the killer’s identity.
The film itself is astonishingly beautiful. The urban setting of the film is shown with crisp light, deep darks, and the occasional giallo light schemes. The detective is shown in tight close-ups, and has an interesting face. He is clearly in pain, but the performance conveys that the source of the pain is complicated. It is survivor’s guilt? Frustration and defeat? The detective keeps you guessing, and you are invested in the outcome.
Though the film successfully creates an atmosphere filled with tension, there is simply not enough story in Yellow to justify the running time. Lasting for 26 minutes, the film feels much longer than that. The beauty of the camera work and the truly engaging soundtrack are enough to spend 26 minutes with nearly any plot, but when short films feel like they are dragging it is a problem.
My other issue with Yellowis the nature of the crimes. The serial killer is a masked man and he targets young, beautiful women. We see two deaths on screen (a drowning and a throat slashing) and a news caster voice over says that there were three other women beyond that. While a good old fashioned eye slicing and cut to the neck that sprays fresh blood all over a nice white blouse are fun to see, I found the lack of innovation a bit boring. The film features nothing new or especially interesting in terms of serial killings. The killer here is clad in leather, and kills in a variety of ways, which show he had potential to be exciting, but the actual deaths are dull. I do not think this is a case of being a jaded critic or upset by violence against women, rather I am upset by missed opportunities in films and by uninteresting deaths. These deaths are without passion, arousal, or terror. If the killer does not have a little flair in their kills, it is difficult to stay engaged.
Short running times mean that short films require little investment in the experience of watching the film. Even with my issues, the beauty of the imagery, Gilbert’s performance as the detective, and the score make Yellow mean that you get quite a great deal out of just 26 minutes.