[Review] Abduction (North Bend Film Festival/Nightstream): Shaming and Blaming Follow a Young Woman’s Otherworldly Experience

Australian short film Abduction combines social messages regarding shaming and victim blaming with a science-fiction setting. Frances Elliott’s screenplay and Paul Komadina’s direction masterfully balance these two elements, not allowing the science fiction elements to overpower the serious messages and vice versa.

Mathilda (Alexandra Nell) enjoys a night out drinking and listening to live music with her friend Abbe (Megan Hollier), but cuts it short because she plans to pick up her boyfriend, Abbe’s brother Andy (Kyle Barrett), in the early morning. Before Mathilda leaves the club, she and Abbe receive a round of beers from a group of men at the end of the bar, and as Mathilda walks to her car, she is verbally harassed by some men.

As Mathilda drives home, her car suddenly stops working. When she gets out to check the engine, a bright light appears above her, and the next thing viewers see — and that she remembers — is her waking up many hours later in the middle of a field. Her friends and complete strangers believe she participated in promiscuous behavior and that story spreads through smartphone messaging and word of mouth, and Mathilda finds that no one will listen to what she believes really happened.

The above goes further into the short’s plot than I normally like to give away in my reviews, but it is important to know that set up because those events play into Abduction’s deeper messages. Mathilda represents what many women experience in one way or another, from unwanted attention from male strangers to unknowingly spiked drinks to far beyond. People she knows and loves won’t listen to her side of the story, and total strangers only make the situation worse. 

Komadina directs from Mathilda’s point of view, with hazy imagery and shots that flash by representing her clouded, confused state of mind. Nell conveys her character’s frustrations and perplexity splendidly.

Abduction sets its goals high and reaches them because of good performances, a unique story and screenplay, fine direction, and impressive technical elements. 

Abduction screened as part of North Bend Film Festival’s shorts block during Nightstream Film Festival, which ran from October 8-11, 2020.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.