Review by Mark Schwab
June 23rd, 2018
Anxiety and self-doubt can hold someone back from all the pleasures life can offer. In the US, medications like Xanax and Adderall are prescribed more and more as our populace feels more threatened and unsure of our future than ever before. With his new project IMPOSTER, writer/director Chris Esper has fashioned a clever little short film addressing these human foibles.
Using very little dialogue, Esper sets up a number of clearly-identified characters - a stressed businessman, a drag queen, a competitive athlete, a painter and an army veteran - and physically places a younger version of them right next to them. That younger version represents the smallness, confusion and doubt we all sometimes feel when we creatively or physically express ourselves. It's a unique visual metaphor which becomes particularly effective when all of these characters converge on the same bus one evening. Having all of these characters with their anxieties crammed together in a small space make for a potential hot brew of fear which will have to come out one way or another. It's a solid set-up and the tight location is used very well with genuine tension organically created from it.
One thing Chris Esper is refreshingly good at is knowing what a short film is and how to structure one. I've seen a few of his previous films and even the ones I didn't think were entirely effective still show that he understands the medium well and can come up with truly original situations. It isn't easy to pull off the short film genre when so many filmmakers shoot a scene from their feature out of context and simply call it a short film or they try way too hard to cram in so much detail that it all vaporizes into irrelevance.
Which is exactly why IMPOSTER works. Even though I think it slides a bit into heavy-handedness at the end (although William DeCoff is truly superb as the army veteran), Esper has created a genuinely original way of visualizing fear and desire all within the meticulous construction required for an 8-minute short film. There is no doubt that IMPOSTER is the real deal and worth seeking out.