Frog Baby Reviews

By Daley Wilhelm
Henry the Invisible Man
Category: Drama
Filmmaker: Anthony Campagna
Synopsis: “The tale of an average man who learns being average is just fine.”

This first struck me as cliché: the average man going through his mediocre life. But in its short run, the film revealed itself to be more than meets the eye. The gorgeous lighting on this boring character kept me watching, but the almost wooden dialogue contrasted jarringly to this fantastic visual. However, I think the film saved itself in its sudden and original plot twist in the end. That and the rather whimsical narrator made the tale a worthwhile watch.

JOE
Category: Drama
Filmmaker: Chris Keaton
Synopsis: “Your average, everyday Joe is stuck in his life, but manages to find pleasure and happiness in the little things.”

This film gets points for its shock factor, but that may be where it was most heavy-handed. It begins with nothing but this office worker who apparently has ample disgust for the people around him. His level of creepiness is visually communicated through the actor’s facial expressions and his mumbling inner monologues. His foreboding looks into the camera, a touch I found chillingly well done, in no way prepared me for the ending. The Buffalo Bill-esque craziness in the end felt over the top, but still made me question whether or not my fellow classmates could be sociopaths.

Lucid
Category: Alternative/Experimental
Filmmaker: Anthony Campagna
Synopsis: “A man must learn to adapt when he finds his world is constantly changing.”

This short felt too short for the incredible visuals it was utilizing. The melodramatic opening felt like something straight from a Liam Neeson chase scene, inventively using freeze frames and flash forwards. Indeed, visual nuances really mattered in this, since it was entirely silent. The main actor, stumbling through colliding worlds, fills the silence. Very slowly the viewer realizes what is actually happening in the surreal yet somehow familiar scenes. The disjointedness of these scenes are joined seamlessly by the cinematography. From the start, the film was not what it seemed: it was so much more.

“I’m Yours”
Category: Music Video
Filmmaker: Bobby Bennett
Synopsis: “A music video of rapper Chris Mack’s song “I’m Yours” to promote his EP “The Rhetoric Series.”

The music video consists entirely of Chris Mack rapping his song in a cluttered, dark basement. The camera focuses mainly on this environment, the bare light bulbs and nameless debris. This focus makes the viewer attempt to discern meaning from the dusty, dirty visuals. I was surprised the video didn’t focus more on Mack, and how it cut off at the chorus.

Unlocked Commercials
Category: Comedy
Filmmaker: Bobby Bennett
Synopsis: “Presented here are 2 commercials from a future that will never be visited. One gives you the taste of a new spy TV show and the other a helpful optical invention.”

Strange premise, excellent execution. Despite the sharp contrast between the two commercials, the comedy was consistent, a kind of cut above the rest slapstick. The visuals seem to be almost too good for the context they’re being used in, like brief but incredibly special special effects used in the second commercial. The little things are what makes it so funny too, such as the fact it was very self-aware, closing off with, “Yup, that’s all we got.”

Prey  
Category: Alternative
Filmmaker: Michael Wooden
Synopsis: “A short horror film full of oblivious prey.”

This fresh take on a zombie film is dangerously subtle, ensuring that up until the plot twist of an ending, zombies are the furthest thing from the audience’s mind. It could be argued that the build up to the zombie surprise is too long, the zombie mention itself too offhand to properly get its shock factor. I argue that this is where it went right, luring watchers into believing that they knew what was going on. It’s deadly silence allowed room for admiration for the makeup skills that went into the short.

The Hermit
Category: Comedy
Filmmaker: Zach Watson
Synopsis: “Cardinal Filmworks presents The Hermit, a story about branching out, taking chances, and meeting people!”

This short errs in trying too hard to be smart and not focusing on the human moments where it succeeds in being laugh out loud funny.  What first irked me was the stilted attempt at “nerd” humor that fell flat in its failure to reference certain “nerdy” facts. Overall, the awkward cuts and lines that were straining to be clever made the short wooden. There were moments, as I mentioned before, that elicited some serious laughs and made for an overall funny, brief, slice of life.

Immaterial
Category: Drama
Filmmaker: Karina Collins
Synopsis: “Nathaniel must choose between love and reality in the face of his growing depression.”

Though this film feeds on a rather overused trope of ghost stories, it shines through its cinematography and the main actor, Chandler Chastain. The few lines Chastain utters say so much in the flickering expressions on his face. The film also communicates where it is silent through creative camera angles. Although the story could be cliché, the raw emotion throughout manipulates it into the must watch film of the Frog Baby Film Festival.

Huerta
Category: Comedy
Filmmaker: Austin Mason
Synopsis: “His Name is Huerta Créme Concannon Tampico.”

This film is an instant winner for me for its use of a kitten. From the start, Huerta is hilarious from just the actor’s facial expressions (or lack thereof). It’s unclear, however, what kind of laugh the film wanted from the audience, being absurd to the point of my wondering whether or not I had watched a short film or a fever dream. Either way, the characterization I believe merits a sequel.

Speech Meet : A Comedy
Category: Comedy
Filmmaker: Rachel Hopkins
Synopsis: “When Kara faces an unexpected opponent in her high school speech meet, she’s faced with the possibility of losing for
the first time.”

Speech Meet succeeds with great lines and good delivery of these lines by the actors. The film has comedic timing down to a science. Though some of the jokes could be described as trying too hard to be funny, the majority of it was human, reminiscent of Parks and Recreation. Though the narrative was airtight, I ran into some confusion having never even heard of a speech meet before. Despite this, the short was quietly funny.

Indiana Outdoors – Diving
Category: Documentary
Filmmaker: Mitch Hannon
Synopsis: “In October 2014 we went diving with a Ball State University Diving class in Muncie, IN. We present this video, which explains many aspects of diving and how to get involved!”

This quaint documentary aptly interspersed interviews and underwater footage. Obviously, the underwater footage was much more interesting, a unique look at fish and the depths of a quarry. The visuals moved seamlessly with the interviews, giving this an overall very professional look.