Review by Mark Schwab
April 21st, 2017
Dateline: 1950's. The Cold War is in full chill and an alcoholic junior Senator from Wisconsin is using Communist fear propaganda to prop up his pathetic political profile. The "red scare" invaded U.S. homes like a fungus, setting the wretched precedent of using "the other" as an excuse to generate fear, paranoia and the passing of terrible xenophobic laws which have nothing to do with keeping Americans safe. It is within this climate that Christiano Dias' short film HURRICANE attempts to draw us into a black comedy that mostly succeeds.
We are plunged into immersive period detail as we meet Oslo and Eva Alduar - the decor, canned food, the costumes, hairstyles...all perfect - getting ready to eat dinner. It is clear from the start this marriage isn't exactly warm and cuddly as Oslo projects icy criticism of the cooking and Eva projects profanity right back at him. Typical to the 1950's, these are two people projecting normalcy on the surface to the casual observer but are really a couple of psychopaths ready to explode. They just need the fuse to be lit.
The match arrives in the form of a young paperboy at their door hoping to sell a new subscription. Oslo is immediately on edge - a paperboy selling door to door at night? and what's that red book full of names he's carrying? We know this is not going to end well.
The first half of HURRICANE is absolutely terrific. Corey Page's Oslo is like a younger Bryan Cranston, perfectly capturing the angry humor needed to keep the highly stylized proceedings entertaining and Lisa Roumain is on exactly the same page as Eva. I was on edge and nervously laughing in a good way as these two fine actors went at each other over dinner. It reminded me of Bob Balaban's tar-black cannibal comedy PARENTS where the clean-edged formica of a simpler time masked a truly warped plot.
Alas, it lost its edge a bit for me in the second half when the paperboy arrived. The story then turned into a more standard angry interrogation type of vibe. The style, look, performances - even the pacing - are consistent throughout but the plot twist wasn't very twisty, I suddenly wasn't as tense and - kinda critically - I wasn't nervously laughing anymore.
This doesn't mean you shouldn't check it out though. There is plenty to enjoy just visually in HURRICANE - the production really is impressive across the board, the cast is up for it and that first half tension and humor is so well done that it almost makes this short film a must-see instead of just a solid recommendation.