Review by Mark Schwab
May 21st, 2018
Director Randall Whittinghill’s short film ZERO-ZERO’s set-up is simple – a downbeat (and possibly deadbeat) guy named Gary (Antonio D Charity) is looking forward to watching the Cubs play in the World Series on television. The power goes out at his place right before the broadcast though (maybe it was switched off from past due bills), leaving him at the mercy of his neighbor to hopefully let him use their television.
Unfortunately for Gary, the only person who seems to be at his neighbor’s house is the teenaged daughter Rya (Kruiz Mauga). Rya is understandably skeptical about letting her adult neighbor inside the house however she does allow him to watch the game from outside through their sliding glass door.
This set up actually takes up very little screen time because Whittinghill has a sneaky agenda for its audience. That agenda gets set in motion when Rya calmly announces to Gary that she is in the process of dying. This sets off a careful verbal game of chess between two unlikely protagonists who have to step carefully in the words they choose. The less you know going in, the more tension you’ll enjoy from the film.
Most of ZERO-ZERO involves Gary and Rya talking through a door which doesn’t sound particularly cinematic but Charity and Mauga’s performances manage to carry the film quite nicely. Charity’s Gary is a nicely fleshed-out character that gets you quickly invested in rooting for him to help Rya. Mauga avoids the “little kid” precociousness and delivers an actual performance instead of just hollow mannerisms – quite impressive for an indie film.
ZERO-ZERO is a solid example of how good dialogue and performances can engage an audience (at least in the short form) just fine without blazing guns, cgi effects or over-the-top scenery chewing. It’s a mature and thoughtful work that is certainly worth checking out.