Dani [Corey Allen, USA, 2019]
The more people you talk to, the more you realise just how common workplace anxiety can be. But this is an area of mental health that is rarely addressed in the arts. Dani seeks to change this by placing problems caused by professions on the centre stage.
The plot focuses on Dani, who, after receiving a hassling call from her boss, notices a malignant presence in her garden. At first, it seems that this is going to be classic stalker thriller with a threatening man preying on a vulnerable woman. Thankfully, it is a bit more original than that.
As the pursuer gets closer and closer, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary enemy but a metaphor for workplace stress. It is refreshing that director Corey Allen goes for a female villain, but this concept is let down but poor effects and unconvincing acting.
Firstly, while the bulging pupils of the anxiety demon are certainly disconcerting, they are a slightly too ridiculous to be truly threatening. In a similar way, the mismatched soundtrack is a little difficult to take seriously.
Secondly, Jenna Dawn’s portrayal of Dani feels a bit too self-conscious. When watching the film, one is very aware that we are watching an actress playing a character rather than being fully convinced of the protagonist’s real existence. This is perhaps not entirely Dawn’s fault though, as she is not helped by cheesy lines such as ‘I’m too busy for this shit’.
That said, there are some well done aspects of this short. Clever camera angles flirt with suspense as the tension builds and Allen makes very good use of a slamming door. Moreover, Dani has an excellent premise that certainly deserves more attention. If the execution of the story had been slightly better, this film would be well worth watching.
‘Dani’ was a film in consideration of Short Focus Film Festival 2019.