A suicidal woman finds herself in a parallel universe and talking to an older version of herself in the unique and interesting short film Terminal from director Mathew Ouzounis.
Most filmmakers start their careers by creating short films, hell even established directors sometimes take time away from making big-budget feature films to dabble in telling stories that run for less than sixty minutes. With so many short films being made every year, with many of them passing through our doors at Screen Critix to review, originality can be rather scarce. There have been instances of creatives being heavily influenced by whatever movie is popular at the time, or shorts using tired and overly used storylines. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that, and everyone has to start somewhere.
Luckily for us though, Mathew Ouzounis’ Terminal is something different.
Opening with a shot of a woman called Nora (Madalina Brancatella) sat in her car alone. She soon places some papers into an envelope and leaves it on the dashboard, before leaving the car and walking down a beach to a canoe. After paddling her way out to sea until the beach is in the far distance, Nora attempts to kill herself by dropping off the side of the boat. Strangely, instead of drowning, she wakes up suddenly in a filled bath, in a smart-looking bathroom.
Drenched from the bathwater, Nora then leaves the room and enters the living area, where she finds a binder full of storyboards, a screenplay, and details of winning some Academy Awards. Shocked, she then walks upstairs and enters a bedroom to find an older lady in bed and on oxygen. Whilst Nora may be surprised by the events, the old lady (Melissa Taylor) is not.
The old lady then informs Nora that she is another version of her, but from a parallel universe. A version who decided against killing herself, and one that set off to achieve what she had her heart set on, and that was making it in the world of movie-making. She even goes as far as to tell Nora that she isn’t the first Nora from other parallel universes to end up at the bottom of her bed, and she won’t be the last.
The plot to Terminal (which is named after the screenplay Nora won the Academy Awards for) is original and, as aforementioned, interesting. Both Brancatella and Taylor do well in their performances too, with Brancatella playing her Nora as a young and depressed woman who has lost her self-esteem and drive, whilst Taylor is an aging success story who is spending the last of her days trying to steer every other parallel Nora that comes her way in the right direction.
Other aspects of Terminal that are really well done are both the cinematography by Andrew Ouzounis (obviously a talented relation to the director and writer Mathew), and the visual effects which, although simple, are effective, especially when we see children running through Nora’s body like she is a ghost, or seeing multiple Noras on screen at the same time.
Terminal did have a few issues, especially in the sound department. When cutting from a shot of Young Nora to Old Nora on the bed, the sound does drop out in the background. Simply placing some room tone over the whole scene would have likely fixed the issue, and it is noticeable, but it isn’t such a big deal for a short that the scoring should take a big hit due to it, though if this was a feature then it wouldn’t be easily forgivable.
Still, we at Screen Critix love to see originality and good performances, and Terminal has both in abundance.