Confession: I don’t often watch short films. And, really, there is zero reason behind it. Shorts are brisk, to the point, and I swear every time I see one, I am reminded that I need to watch more. This is such the case with 2017’s Your Date is Here, written and directed by Zak White and Todd Spence.
From the opening moment to the first frame of credits, Your Date is Here runs just over five minutes and is impeccably quick to set the stage and suspense with a 1-2-3 story arc that builds and reveals from start to finish. And as with all short films, the audience is given a peek into its storytellers’ abilities (or lack thereof).
The story is simple: a mother (Becca Flinn) and her young daughter (Dani Tiernan) play a board game (named “Your Date is Here” — think “Mystery Date”) only to summon something a little more ghoulish than the dreaded dweeb card. Oftentimes the success of a short film (or independent films as a whole) can hinge on its actors’ performances and believability. If it feels like a movie (or worse — a play), we, as viewers, can never fully invest or care. With Your Date is Here, the small cast of mother and daughter works very well. Flinn and Tiernan have natural chemistry and their dialogue almost feels improvised — again, something that can work well or fail horribly. Thankfully, Your Date is Here falls into the former category.
The film’s backdrop is stagnant (another cinematic characteristic I dig) in the family’s apartment, but the real magic is in the details. Whether it’s the coolly designed vintage look of the board game itself (complete with a plastic toy phone, mind you), or the totally relatable moment when the mom sneaks some alcohol in her mug, these small bits help to illustrate something larger than a 5-minute horror story. They carefully capture a scene.
To that point, Your Date is Here ends up feeling like the first scene in a feature film. And that is a good thing because it just means you want more.
Your Date is Here will be on the festival circuit before it’s released to the public later this year. To stay up-to-date, check out the film’s Facebook page or follow Todd Spence on Twitter.
And, please, don’t be a dweeb like me. Watch short films and watch them often. But, of course, you’re probably one of the cool kids and already knew that.