Prolific filmmaker Patrick Rea puts modern American society under a The Twilight Zone-style microscope in his latest short film, Justice Served. This examination of murky morality opens post-viewing questions for discussion while delivering an entertaining horror story.
Nathan (Davis DeRock) is on trial for suspicion of deliberately pushing a little girl into the oncoming path of a speeding car, driven by Andrea Paddington (Jennifer Seward-DeRock). His attorney Mia (executive producer Elisa James) is certain that the jury will rule in his favor, but intense grilling from opposing lawyer Mr. Wrenson (Jason Curtis Miller) and the unreliable testimony of witness Edgar Stonewright (Tom Sutton) may be his undoing. If the jury does not decide favorably, a gruesome sentence awaits Nathan.
Patrick Rea wrote, directed, edited, and produced Justice Served. Viewers who have seen Rea’s previous work, such as the feature films Arbor Demon (AKA Enclosure) and Nailbiter or shorts like Pillow Fright and Howl of a Good Time, know to expect filmmaking of the highest quality from him, and this short certainly carries on that tradition. Rea’s screenplay slowly unveils layers of surprises that take the film into unexpected directions, never tipping its hand too much, too early. As the court case proceeds and the short delves deeper into horror territory, the suspense builds and Nathan’s fate becomes uncomfortably relatable.
Hanuman Brown-Eagle’s cinematography is superb, with a good deal of time spent on close-ups of actors as their characters try to remain straight-faced or emotive while giving their testimony. Slight changes in facial expressions convey a great deal in Justice Served’s courtroom, and the cast is rock solid in portraying delight, disappointment, and more.
It’s important to not give too much away regarding the plot of Justice Served. Its emotional impact lies in its surprising route to its ultimate social commentary. Patrick Rea has crafted another winner. Watch for it as it begins its film festival rounds.
(4 / 5)