Review: The Shadow Scarf
Oftentimes a short film is a stand-alone effort; an idea that is able to fully offer a story within a condensed amount of time. Some are able to expand into larger entities, as was the case with Andy Muschietti’s Mama, and there are others that are used as a type of portfolio of talents. The Shadow Scarf feels a bit like all three.
We start off in a restaurant/bar run by Jeffrey (played by the writer and director, Clay Von Carlowitz) a seemingly amicable cool guy with a crooked smile who is waiting for his brother on a foggy evening. Once his co-worker leaves and he’s left alone to wait and close up, a mysterious woman named Aurora (played by Asta Paredes) walks in to participate in their open mic night only to find out it’s been cancelled. Still, Jeffrey decides to close up early and be treated to a private show. As Aurora croons her song, Jeffrey finds himself mesmerized, and after the two begin talk and get to know each other we start to get the sense that things aren’t quite what they seem. Once the truth is revealed, we’re treated to an abrupt ending that feels like we’re only just beginning, but it’s an ending nonetheless.
As straightforward as it seems, there’s a surprising level of depth especially in terms of Jeffrey. Outside of Jeffrey worrying about his brother’s whereabouts, he’s vocally proven to be a shallow and selfish person. We first see this in his early interactions with the mysterious woman as she compliments his necklace to which his reply is along the lines of “I bought it because it looked cool”. That in itself is not a major character flaw, but then he proceeds to close up the bar early to be a one man audience for a woman he just met. He’s fully mesmerized as she continues her performance, completely unworried about his brother’s whereabouts. After, Jeffrey entertains Aurora, telling her stories, laughing at the expense of his past bar patrons who were too drunk to leave. In no way does this come across as malicious, but Jeffrey makes it clear he’s no model citizen or deep thinker, and it’s brought to light along with past transgressions in the final minutes.
As for Aurora, at the beginning her dialogue seems a bit clunky as she enters in spouting “I just have to sing”, as if it is as vital as water. It seems strange in the beginning, but once we see her ulterior motives for being there, it makes some of the earlier dialogue choices make a bit more sense. Nevertheless, the two leads speak with such conviction and ease that it all mostly sounds natural.
Now there are two more aspects to this that deserve some attention, the first being the amazing score, the second being the kind of cliff-hanger ending. The score was composed by Grant Swift and helps establish the tone as one that is haunting, but beautiful. So much of the short feels like it’s about to turn in to a romance that the haunting aspects are almost forgotten, making the shift in tone near the end appropriately jarring. Unfortunately, the more haunting storyline doesn’t get fully explored and thus, it feels like The Shadow Scarf is set up for a larger work when it ends. Still, it works on its own and leaves me excited to see what the future holds for Clay, Asta, and Abandoned House Productions.
Watch Here: https://vimeo.com/264447831/recommended