My guess would be that about halfway through writer/director Gerard Lough's new futuristic short film, Ninety Seconds, you will have either become completely engrossed in it or you will be checking your watch and fidgeting relentlessly.
There's no big determining factor as to which side of the fence you will be on, but those who prefer contemporary cinema's faster-paced thrills and chills may be the ones who find this more thoughtful and understated film to be just a tad boring and lacking.
There's almost no denying that Ninety Seconds is Lough's most ambitious project yet, a sci-fi/cyberpunk styled short film with an emphasis on atmosphere and visuals that actually transcend, at least for the most part, the film's performances. Intentional or not, there are smaller moments contained within Ninety Seconds, a bit of an irony given the film's focus on the vitality of 90 seconds.
Ninety Seconds largely centers around Mr. Philips (Michael Parle), a rather ambiguous figure whose very being has disintegrated into a universal stream of paranoia around a woman, Elly (Emma Eliza Regan), a woman whom he no longer trusts and so he hires Mark (Andrew Norry) and Ralfi (Claire J. Bennerhassett) to trail her. Mark and Ralfi are said to be two of the best at what has become a high tech world of surveillance operations, and Philips's paranoia is well earned as the world has collapsed into a swampland of paranoia, technology and a complete absence of privacy.
Lough does a tremendous job, perhaps not so ironically, of utilizing technology to capture this overwhelming paranoia. Cian Furlong's original music is stellar, with both a sense of the epic and the intimacy of the film intertwined. D.P. Greg Rouladh, who also edits the film, creates an atmosphere that lingers in your psyche' long after the closing credits have scrolled by. Paul Barrett's visual effects transcend what one usually expects from a modestly budgeted short film, with Lough wisely stretching his dollar as much as possible but never giving the film the look or feel of one that tried to accomplish too much with too little.
It should be noted that Ninety Seconds is frequently meditative in nature and Lough is clearly comfortable with silence, a silence that may prove too unsettling for some audiences but a silence that works wonders in terms of allowing the paranoia to creep in. Among the key players in the film, Michael Parle, a Lough regular, is most successful as Mr. Philips, projecting a sense of the paranoia without ever becoming a caricature. Emma Eliza Regan also does an incredibly fine job as Elly.
Ninety Seconds was only recently completed and is just beginning its festival run. For more information, visit the film's Facebook page linked to in the credits.