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The Independent Critic

Cade Carradine, Marguerite Wheatley, Ricco Ross
Barak Shpiez
12 Mins.

 Movie Review: Vax 
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Writer/director Barak Shpiez's Vax is far from the first film to tackle the subject of the darker side of big pharma, however, this 12-minute short film is an impressive effort that accomplishes quite a bit of storytelling in a short but well used period of time. 

Vax is set inside the walls of Triple Hills Pharma, an intimidating facility likely not that far removed from any number of other similar pharma giants. We meet Geoff (Cade Carradine), and quickly come face-to-face with the fact that he has inadvertently stumbled across a discovery that could save millions impacted by malaria. 

It could also kill Triple Hills Pharma's profits. 

Medical thrillers have always captivated audiences and in these months when the COVID-19 pandemic is supposedly waning it seems ideal to revisit what happens when the health and welfare of the people clashes with the profits of a few. 

Geoff's first response is that something must be amiss - this find was certainly not expected. In consulting with his boss, Eric (Ricco Ross), the findings are dismissed with an air of "there's a whole lot more going on here." Indeed, there is. When Geoff confirms the results, he's met with even more intensified resistance by Eric and it becomes apparent that Triple Hills has no plans to pursue this potentially groundbreaking discovery. Supported by his wife, Rachel (Marguerite Wheatley), Eric begins plotting ways to bring this discovery to light. 

It quickly becomes clear that Triple Hills will stop at nothing to ensure the discovery never sees the light. 

Vax is led by a strong but talented ensemble that brings to life Shpiez's intense, intelligently rendered story. As noted, there's quite a bit of storytelling that goes on here in a short period of time and Shpiez makes sure every moment counts. Shpiez contributes the effective music for the film and lensing by Caleb Phillips practically smothers us in the film's claustrophobic intensity. There's just a whole lot to appreciate here and it would be fun to see Shpiez expand this to feature-length in the future. 

Already screened at over a dozen festivals on four continents, Vax is the kind of indie drama/thriller that fest audiences love and its rich atmosphere is ideally suited for a bigger screen. If you get the chance, definitely check it out. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic