Nemesis (2020) short film review

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A young businesswoman, on her path to success, betrays her best friend and winds up in a deadly game. Here is Screen Critix review of Writer/Director Tim Earnhart’s short sci-fi actioner ‘Nemesis’.

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The opening scene of Nemesis shows Astrid Patel (played by Esha More) as a confident, successful businesswoman in obsessive control of her life. When we first meet her she is having celebratory drinks with her best friend and business partner Evelyn Kwon (actress Joy Park) after a successful merger between their two companies. She is thrilled as she has just managed to clinch the biggest deal of her life, but Evelyn is not so happy. We learn that Astrid has made a few decisions that mean she is now CEO and in charge of the new company, leaving Evelyn floundering very much below her. Despite the millions that the deal has earned them, there is still animosity between the two (allegedly) best friends and the two actors brood and glower with resentment at each other brilliantly during these opening salvos.

In what looks to be a moment of clarity between the two friends, they seemingly make up when Astrid innocently asks Evelyn how she’ll be celebrating her birthday weekend. Surprisingly, Evelyn tells her she is going to some sort of ‘hunting club’ and she has a spare invitation if she’d like to go. Astrid’s curiosity gets the better of her and she decides to take up the offer. It is then that all hell breaks loose.

In a special effects-laden film like ‘Nemesis’, there are people who will overlook the acting of Esha More, but her performance is one of the reasons this 17-minute short works so well. She isn’t a superhero, although she can quip and fire a gun like the best of them, she’s a confused innocent; a woman betrayed by the reality she is facing, even though to some extent, she may be deserving of it.

There are many movie influences you can see all over ‘Nemesis’ and, although they were slightly distracting, I had a great deal of fun spotting them. They range from the obvious nods to Fincher’s The Game, the opening scene being very reminiscent of Michael Douglas and Sean Penn’s chat in the restaurant. Arnie classics like Total Recall and The Running Man, The Resident Evil franchise, to the more subtle like Robocop in some of the violence and creature designs. The use of sound, especially towards the end, brought to mind Predator and I even saw some of Disney’s Tron in the lighting and special effects on show.

With regards to the special effects for a film done with such a low budget, director Tim Earnhart deserves a lot of praise considering he has a hand in all of them, sound and visual. The effects are very good and work well together, there are some issues in a couple of shots but they are just minor quibbles and you can only see them if you are really looking. Meanwhile, the thumping techno soundtrack adds a bit of atmosphere to the action on show.NEMESIS Poster 27x40 202x300 Nemesis (2020) short film review

The script does tend to be a mash-up of all the films mentioned above and unfortunately is the weakest part of the film. There is a lot of exposition that is being delivered by the actors in the beginning and this leads to the movie’s opening 7 minutes feeling overlong and dragging slightly. However, once Astrid enters the arena, this is all soon forgotten because, from this moment we have little time to think about anything as we are subjected to a slam-bang bit of action, facing what feels like both barrels of a Gatling gun. During the action scenes, the direction is quick and choppy and despite a couple of confusing plot points, we do get our money’s worth.

The occasional slow-motion frames seem a little unnecessary but they do look cool and we are given a nice if obvious twist ending. Yet, despite a few minor flaws, Nemesis is a tightly directed action flick that will be enjoyed by the current gamer generation who are looking for cheap visceral thrills, kick-ass violence, and high tech spectacle.

4 / 5 stars     

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