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The Independent Critic

Julian M. Kheel, Alec Hynes, Kathy Biehl, Gwenevere Sisco, Noriko Sato, Ziyaad Saadi
Ziyaad Saadi
13 Mins.

 "Don't Open Me" Continues on Film Fest Circuit 
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Quirky is a massively over-utilized word among film critics, but the truth is I can't think of a much better word to describe writer/director Ziyad Saadi's entertaining comedic short film Don't Open Me, a film starring Saadi as a young man, Abdul, standing on a street corner awaiting the arrival of three mysterious packages meant for his boyfriend. With the arrival of each package, Abdul increasingly learns disturbing truths about his mysterious boyfriend. 

Don't Open Me is simply an awful lot of fun to watch, a 13-minute short film with unique characters delivering unique dialogue and doing unique things. 

Then, for the most part, they're gone. 

As Abdul awaits his package, a mysterious clown not far removed from Puddles observes him from afar. Okay, it's not actually that far. It's actually across the street, but "from afar" sounded better. The clown, named Harpo (Julian M. Kheel) here, looks like the kind of clown you'd either find in your local rehab or maybe your local sewer with a red balloon. He adds a bit of a dark edge to the scenario, though Don't Open Me is definitely more of a straightforward comical film but not really in that laugh out loud sense. 

Don't Open Me features the kinds of characters you might expect to find on a city bus, folks like Bee (Kathy Biehl), Miranda (Gwenevere Sisco), and Natsumi (Noriko Sato), are so delightfully straight and deadpan in their deliveries that you simply can't help but adore them. The final package, delivered by Natsumi, has attached to it a simple instruction that says, you guessed it, Don't Open Me.

Will he?

You'll have to watch the film for yourself to find out.

Saadi's performance is impeccable along with his sparse yet perfectly written dialogue. The performances are across the board top notch, though one can't help but single out Julian M. Kheel's edgy, playful turn as Harpo. Tony Sur's lensing is strong throughout, while Jorge Palomo's original helps the film maintain its quirky, urban vibe. 

If you get a chance, definitely check out Don't Open Me.

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic