A young fighter pilot’s encounter with an unidentified craft sets him on a life-altering quest in Colossus (2021), an outstanding science fiction/cosmic horror short from writer/director James Roe.
The short film opens with an unnamed man (John Neisler) armed with a rifle protecting himself in his home from something outside — something that sounds large and dangerous. Through flashbacks and the man’s narration, viewers learn that decades ago when he (Levi Hood plays the younger version of the protagonist) was in the military, his plane crashed in the sea off Saipan after being shot down by a UFO. After being dishonorably discharged — presumably for sticking to his story — he shatters his life with his wife (Dawn Spatz) and young daughter when his obsession with uncovering the mysteries of what happened to him dominate his thoughts — and matters only get worse from there.
Colossus boasts absolutely stunning cinematography from Kevin Hughes that helps give the short the feeling of a feature-film with a sizable budget. Roe keeps the special effects simple yet highly effective. The visual effects, which he worked on with Owen Hornstein, are impressive, such as the UFO, which holds up well with a nice amount of screen time. Some practical effects makeup work and objects also look marvelous.
Roe paces the short perfectly, building intrigue through the flashbacks while the older version of the protagonist is dealing with the unknown he has been haunted by for decades. Both Neisler and Hood are terrific, and Spatz and Nelson Gonzales (as a guide for one of the young man’s quests) also give solid performances in their supporting roles.
Roe flavors Colossus with a sense of the vastness of space and the mysterious, as well as personal fixations that others cannot understand. It’s a remarkable slice of genre cinema that is well worth seeking out.(4.5 / 5)
Colossus screened as part of the 26th annual H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival, which ran in-person in Portland, Oregon from Oct 1–3, 2021 and had a streaming edition Oct 8–12.