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The Independent Critic

Mack Syler, Jonathan Watkins, Raul Rincon
Mack Syler, Mair Syler
Mack Syler

 "Backup Thesis" Review 
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A film student (Jonathan Watkins) gets more than he bargained for when he agrees to interview a stranger (Mack Syler) for his thesis.

Just when you think you have Backup Thesis all figured out, you don't.

Backup film, perhaps?

Who knows? What I do know is that Backup Thesis manages to be both intelligent and entertaining while giving us the story of a film student, his camera man (Raul Rincon) and a rather unpredictable interviewee. The success of the unpredictability is essential for the film to work, and Watkins and Rincon sell it with pizzazz. In the film's opening moments, you're not quite sure exactly what's unfolding. Horror? Suspense? Comedy? Or maybe something more?

Rincon and Watkins don't spill the beans, making the film's closing minutes a really delightful payoff as we learn more than we'd ever expected from their homeless interviewee, whose story is both emotionally resonant and incredibly thought-provoking. As emotionally resonant as the film is, one of its strengths is that Co-directors Mack and Mair Syler play it quite straight forward and avoid strumming the heartstrings unnecessarily. There's a story to be told, and it's clearly a story they trusted to have enough impact.

It does.

This ultra-indie short was actually filmed in 2009 and captured an Award of Merit from the Accolade Competition. The Syler's have also jointly directed three other shorts including The Foxhole, The Choice and When in Rome (I will confess to being somewhat envious of Mack Syler's uncredited bit appearance in the John Waters film Cecil B. Demented).

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic