It doesn't take long to figure out that the broken Arrow dwelling at the center of the 21-minute thriller short A Broken Arrow is, in fact, an actual person. In this case, it's an obviously troubled teen named Arrow (Danny Lee) whose entire aura radiates trauma even as he's sitting around his obviously suburban neighborhood alongside friends Ivy (Emily Krzemienski), Delilah (Yasmine Alayan), and Dax (Trent Mason).
The quartet seemingly gets along, sharing increasingly odd stories with Arrow's variation inevitably a whole lot more melancholy and skewed by his own off-kilter mind that seems lost somewhere between reality and fantasy.
A Broken Arrow is written and co-directed by 14-year-old Sasha Nelson, an obviously gifted teen whose father, Joshua Nelson, co-directs from Sasha's surprisingly normal yet haunting dialogue. The film doesn't necessarily go anywhere you don't expect it to go, but where it's going it does so very well and there's no denying that Nelson's dialogue is authentic teenspeak and more than a little unnerving.
The Nelsons have also assembled quite the ensemble cast including the primary quartet of newcomers who all show quite a bit of promise here. All four of them should have filmmakers knocking on their doors.
As the elder Arrow, Kadyn Kuioka plays him as a younger child, Danny Lee could have turned in a one-note goth performance but there's something far darker and deeper and even a little bit funnier going on here. The closing scene, in particular, is sublime and Lee pulls it off perfectly.
Emily Krzemienski is also spot-on as the beauty here, her performance almost the anti-Arrow with her brightness and cheer. Trent Mason shines as Dax, the jock, who grows increasingly uncomfortable with Arrow's morbidity while Yasmine Alayan is loyal to a fault as the best friend who can't seem to see the obvious signs.
Among the adults, Carrie Plumley shines most brightly as Dr. Miller, a psychologist tapped with trying to help Arrow without the use of medications. In these types of films, I nearly always roll my eyes when it comes to anyone playing a therapeutic role but Plumley pulls it off quite nicely.
Michael Zayac's lensing is effective throughout and the film's original music is sparse but effective.
Sasha Nelson definitely shows an awful lot of promise here in telling a haunting, believable story and both Nelson's direct with confidence and effective imagination.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic