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Written by on March 6, 2012

One thing we at The Signal have been excited to start covering are independent films with some serious staying power. Because some of the best talent in Hollywood are working hard to bring their ideas to fruition without a big budget studio, and these projects are chances to see up-and-comers when they have full creative control. The first short film we’d like to present is Project S.E.R.A. (which can be viewed here or down below), a ten minute short film by Benjamin Howdeshell.

Project S.E.R.A. is most memorable because it presents itself as merely a smaller set of scenes within a larger picture, answering only the necessary questions and leaving each viewer with the thirst for more. We begin with immediate action, and only stop once or twice until the end where…well we won’t spoil anything, but it’s not what you expect. Howdeshell is probably best known as assistant editor for a couple of the Resident Evil movies, and it’s obvious that he took a lot of his writing and directing cues from that film style. Action sequences are quick, intense, and gory, with an aura of impending doom surrounding these few scenes that rival all the weight and grandeur of a full-length.

The premise is simple but effective. Jill, portrayed by Julia Voth, is giving an account of an incursion between her, her father (played by Dennis Keiffer), and hostile group absconding with a weapon of biological warfare. It’s written effectively and efficiently for the time allotted, though an extra minute or two to expound on each character would have of course allowed for some of the summarizing dialog to feel less awkward. But if you look at it similarly to Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, where the crucial “Rules of Fight Club” scene was the only part written and originally used as a hook prior to the full work, it actually shines through as an intriguing piece of the puzzle.

As for production value, it’d be hard to find a better project of this quality. The CGI effects are decent and well above average for a short film, though they fall short compared to the high quality of the regular non-computer effects and the really well-done makeup. Likewise, the direction is well handled, utilizing Jill, her father, and third main actor Victor Webster to show off their talent among and throughout the action sequences.

Project S.E.R.A is a fun film and well worth the next ten minutes of your time. Be sure to watch it below and support this team of talented men and women.

Overall Rating: 86