Dealings, the latest film from writer/director Michael S. Rodriguez (Day of The Pigs) is a seventeen-minute excursion into neo-noir as a crew of sleazy characters cross and double-cross each other with lethal results.
Navajo Jim (Manuel Ramirez) is a detective. He’s been hired by Art (Artour Pogosian) to chase down rumours that his wife Roxanne (Sparkle Soojian) is cheating on him. When Jim delivers the proof Art offers him another job, this time as a hitman. Which he’s willing to do if the money is right.
But nothing is what it seems, and everyone, Art, Jim, Roxanne and even Art’s bartender Cheri (Samantha Wolf) is hiding something.
Rodriguez gets Dealings off to a nicely claustrophobic start with the meeting between Art and Navajo Jim in a darkened office. And he wisely keeps most of the film confined to interiors, frequently dimly lit ones to maintain that feeling of being trapped.
Once the plot is set into motion, Dealings lets the bodies drop like dominoes in an amusing, if an unlikely, chain of homicides. It’s like Mario Bava’s Bay of Blood, only without the outrageously gory deaths. Unfortunately, Rodriguez takes it a little too far and the last twist felt like it came out of nowhere.
Dealings also suffers from some rather bland performances. It might be because the plot’s setup doesn’t give anyone much time or character arc to work with, but nobody seemed very convincing. Worse, while nobody in the film is meant to be likeable, none of them were particularly hateable in the way a good villain should be. And, given her past run-ins with the law, I would have expected Soojian to have made a more convincing scumbag.
Despite its flaws, Dealings is certainly a watchable short. It might even play out better expanded to give the characters a bit more depth. You can keep an eye on the director’s Facebook page for news of the film’s release.