- on Saturday, 26 November 2016 23:14
- by Loron Hays
Director Eric Hyde, as made apparent by his debut short, is a filmmaker to keep an eye on. The rich mystery that is uncovered in From Ashes to Immortality is one that is not easily dismissed. Maybe it is the subject matter of child abuse. Maybe it’s the beauty of how the camera traverses the field of vision in this tale of the fantastic. Regardless of the reason, not since The X-Files have connections as extreme and as unsettling as the one in Hyde’s 26-minute film, an official selection of the Beverly Hills Film Festival, been established between two seemingly unrelated things.
A little girl (Delilah Rose Pellow) runs down a bricked street. The camera blurs the image into fuzzy mothlike orbs of unfettered light. A lone guitar strums. In this manner, the atmosphere of Hyde’s film is created, nurtured, and sustained. In these quiet moments, its beauty almost becomes lyrical.
Filmed in Lawrence, Kansas and starring Mike Anderson (who also co-wrote the screenplay with Hyde), From Ashes to Immortality opens with a sudden eeriness that is striking in its use of point-of-view and inky shadows. It is evening, but the night is not the darkest part of Evie Robertson’s young life. That title goes to her meat-cutting father (George Dean), who casts one hell of an opressive shadow, and what his simple dialogue hints at is deeply disturbing.
Good thing she has an escape route. Out the window, down the street, and to the neighbor’s house she goes.
Yet, her neighbor – who just happens to be a ridiculed University of Kansas professor of paleontology – has a secret that she discovers in his house. It is a necklace with special powers, Dr. Dell Martin suggests, and so begins his magical story about an enigmatic green field surrounded by a large rock wall and the secret discovered therein…
The dreamlike tale that Anderson’s character weaves connects a 300-year-old Mayan discovery to a freak accident, and the girl’s present situation. Co-starring Wes Studi (Dances with Wolves), filmmaker Blake Robbins (The Sublime and the Beautiful) and Kevin Willmott (Jayhawkers), From Ashes to Immortality takes a disturbing family drama and aims for the stars with a quiet statement about the transcendent power of belief.
When Hyde does shine a light onto the darkness with daytime scenes – courtesy of Dell's story to Evie – we get the grittiness of this modern life. Adults are rude. Comments are cynical. Theft occurs. We even get a double-cross to really paint just how ugly and hollow the world is.
Photographed by Jeremy Osbern, Hyde’s film is brought to life within the darkest corners of this modern life. In some scenes, expressions are solely lit by the reflection in the tears that trace the actor’s cheeks. And the haunting score by Matt Pelsma aids in earmarking the quiet beauty Hyde’s film so masterfully illustrates. The score is expressive and mirrors the energy of the images flickering across the screen. Hyde's short film is mysterious yet dynamic, and – thanks to subtle reference to a poem by Mark Strand – forces us to engage with its sacrificial message.
This is manna for the masses and, as Hyde’s film continues to make the rounds at film festivals throughout the country, more and more audiences will certainly fall under its spell. From Ashes to Immortality displays a lot of homegrown talent for the state of Kansas. It is a passionate film that inspires the quietest members of its audience to jump at the moments before them – now matter how insignificant their size – and DO SOMETHING other than just fade out.
From Ashes to Immortality is indeed the bridge over troubled waters we need to cross right now. If you ever have the chance to see it, you won't regret your steps into the darkness of the theater.
MPAA Rating: Not rated.
Runtime: 30 mins
Director: Eric Hyde
Writer: Mike Anderson, Eric Hyde
Genre: Drama | Fantasy
Tagline: An innocent girl, a disturbed father, a troubled neighbor, and a tale of magic...
Memorable Movie Quote:
Theatrical Distributor: No theatrical release
Release Date: No theatrical release
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: No details available.
Synopsis: A little girl with an abusive father runs away to her friendly neighbor for safety and learns of a special secret.
No details available.