How much can civilization change when someone takes a short break from it? A terrifyingly great deal, at least in the world of the microbudget short horror film No Service.
Leah McKendrick is both the writer and star of No Service. She portrays Olivia, a writer who has headed to the woods to work on her current project. She hasn’t checked in recently with her significant other Zack (the voice of Ryan W. Garcia) or her mother (the voice of Jeanette O’Connor). She has no cell phone signal in the place she is staying so she drives down a quiet road until she finally gets one. She finds that Zack and her mom have left many messages for her, each one more frantic than the previous one. The directions for her in their admonishments keep changing and becoming more desperate.
With a running time of four-and-a-half minutes, No Service starts slowly, establishing how isolated Olivia is. Business begins to pick up just after the halfway mark but the short still takes its time getting to the payoff.
No Service relies heavily on Leah McKendrick’s acting, and she does a nice job as Olivia’s emotions go from frustration to confusion to fear and worry in about two minutes’ time. Her screenplay isn’t heavy on dialog but it is effective in its slow-burn approach to making viewers, along with Olivia, wonder just what is happening. Director Kholi Hicks captures McKendrick’s performance quite well.
Bereft of showy special effects and shot in broad daylight, No Service is an entertaining short that relies on building tension and uncertainty to deliver its jolt. According to Leah McKendrick, it was shot in one day, so it is also a testimonial to independent filmmakers running lean and mean and getting things done.
No Service: (3 / 5)