Heathens is a nine-minute short from writer/director Carlos Garcia Jr. It also serves as a calling card for a possible feature. So while the immediate story is complete, there’s a lot of questions left about the context it’s taking place in. And while that can be an issue for some people, this time it works in the film’s favour.
“A group of heathens chases down their human sacrifice before the school bell rings.” is how the film describes itself. And that is superficially correct. But as is often the case the devil is in the details. The various conflicts within the group. Their shock at finding a victim who actually fights back. And the distinctly cold way their leader Lena (Stephanie Oustalet) seems to view everyone else.
While the action itself is quite well done, it’s the questions that remain after the chilling resolution that makes Heathens stand out. I really wanted to know who these kids were and why they were doing what they did. Was it simply for kicks, or as Lena put it, “Because we can”?. Or is there some deeper reason? The line about the group needing to consist of five people hints at something ritualistic. Something the film’s tag line seems to back up.
Heathens is Garcia’s first film but he has worked as a cameraman on a couple of other projects including the feature Silhouette. That probably explains why the film looks so good. It’s a very polished film overall in fact, especially for a debut effort.
I’m not sure what the release plan for Heathens is. I would expect it will be getting submitted to festivals in the near future though. You can check Absentia Pictures Facebook page for updates.