Marina Benedict, Kylie Chalfa, Gillian Shure
"Death in Charge" Review
How can you not completely love a darkly humorous short with the tagline "Don't tell mom the babysitter's death?"
So goes "Death in Charge," writer/director Devi Snively's 15-minute short in which the Grim Reaper (Marina Benedict) becomes a babysitter. Filmed in the time-honored tradition of E.C. Comics, "Death in Charge" tips its hat to its origins with a 50's era scene of the Grim Reaper in action before quickly jumping forward to the present day home of a distracted mom (Gillian Shure) and her morbidly curious daughter, Whitney (Kylie Chalfa).
Chalking up her latest babysitter as nothing more than one of those gothic teenagers, Whitney takes an immediate liking to her new babysitter as they share violent video games, sea munkees and the Grim Reaper's newfound appreciation for mac 'n cheese.
When Whitney's darker fantasies begin to come to life largely owing to her mother's seemingly misguided focus on getting laid rather than parenthood, it would seem that the Grim Reaper and Whitney have changed roles.
Reportedly inspired to create "Death in Charge" by curiousity over the Columbine killings, "Death in Charge" is a remarkably effective at balancing classic elements of horror with humor and a few social insights thrown in for good measure.
Such balance couldn't possibly be achieved without strong leading performances, and Marina Benedict is stellar as the Grim Reaper/Babysitter. Somehow managing to toss in elements of sweetness and innocent curiosity with the Grim Reaper's obviously darker qualities, Benedict is spot-on perfect in body language, vocal inflections and facial expressions that turn what could have easily been a one-note role and turn it into a surprisingly complex and multi-layered performance.
While the younger Chalfa isn't quite up to Benedict's standards,her scenes with Benedict are delightful as the young girl appropriately pegs Whitney as a disenfranchised youth whose jadedness isn't quite firmly planted in sociopathic tendencies yet. Chalfa is a promising young actress, clearly understanding how body language and even a flick of the eyebrow can often communicate as much as a dozen words of spoken dialogue.
Snively decorates "Death in Charge", which has been an Official Selection in over 36 film festivals around the world, with subtle imagery throughout the film's 15 minute runtime, and "Death in Charge" is a delight for moviegoers who appreciate strong visual stylings and well written, well acted live-action shorts.