REVIEW: Mindless (2016)
– By Chris Barnes
Katie Bonham is a filmmaker I’ve looked out for since 2014’s excellent The Paper Round – screened to great success as one of only two short films selected for last year’s FrightFest Glasgow. This year, Katie’s back there again, premiering her 4th horror short, Mindless, starring Nicholas Vince (Hellraiser, Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Nightbreed).
Mindless tells the story of Peter (Vince) – a senile, middle-aged man whose house is mysteriously torn apart day after day. His carer, Judy (Kate Danbury), is unconvinced of Peter’s claims he’s not responsible for the daily destruction and believes a care home is the best place for him. Is Peter a risk to himself or is something more sinister afoot?
Being only 7-8 minutes long you may expect ‘smash-and-grab’ rather than ‘thoughtful psychological horror-drama’, with investment in characters and plot being merely an afterthought due to its time limitations, but it’s remarkable how director Bonham has managed to squeeze compassion into such a short runtime. All too often, when pacing isn’t quite right with a short, I become conscious of each second, wondering and worrying how they’ll cram their ideas in and provide a suitable ending, rather than enjoying what’s unfolding in front of me. Thankfully, this wasn’t a concern here, which became apparent the instant Vince adorned the screen and the camera lingered. Of course, we don’t get a grand build-up of themes, locations or fully developed characters, but that seems to work a charm, giving us just enough to hold onto as we watch macabre and rather shocking events unfurl – the ambiguity perhaps helping us empathise with Peter’s predicament.
Another of Bonham’s strengths is her ability to accurately convey current social issues realistically within a horror setting and Mindless is no different – highlighting society’s current views on dementia and Alzheimer’s, and touching on the respect vulnerable adults receive from our crumbling care system. It’s as relevant as it is intriguing, and worryingly sits all too comfortably within the confines of a horror tale. As with The Paper Round, writer-director Bonham’s mostly self-funded creation is minimal yet extremely effective, helped greatly by a strong, assured cast and some wonderful contrasting ideas, ranging from prolonged stillness to vicious innuendo.
With Mindless, the gang have created a thought-provoking, fascinating social statement that lingers in the memory long after the credits have rolled, asking the viewer hard-hitting questions about whom they perceive as victims, modern day humanity and, indeed, themselves.
See it screened alongside Sonny Mallhi’s Anguish at the Glasgow Film Theatre this coming Friday, February 26th at 3.40pm.