It’s a true challenge to tell a gripping story in under 6 minutes. You would have to engage your viewers within the first minute and then you are left with even less time in which you have to cram character development, an actual plot line and some proper action too. Not only does Eva Nextdoor deliver these elements without even breaking a sweat, but it also manages to surprise us with a major midway twist. I urge you to watch it before reading this review, you won’t regret it.
The premise is simple: a feature documentary about Eva (Marion Servole) , a 25 year french girl living in Paris today, in a fragile economic climate. She does some casual jobs, but her main occupation is cleaning. An expressive shot shows her delicate hands rubbing against one another as she gives them a lingering look. She would prefer to do something else, she tells us, but sadly hasn’t found it yet. At a first glance she is a shy, sensitive soul who became a vegetarian after seeing a documentary on animal torture. She is a dreamer who misses the warm sun of the South and wants to one day settle down somewhere far away and have a child (one way or the other). The “adorable factor” is quickly dissipated by Damian McCall’s shady character who describes her as nuts but as someone who’s also very effective who gets the job done quickly and clean. One of her bosses, you think, as you shudder at the sight of him. With his tinted aviator glasses, dirty stubble and half smoked cigarette McCall is as sleazy as they come. As a viewer you become more and more confused: Who is this guy and why does she keep working for him? Is she that desperate for money? What exactly goes on when she “cleans” for him? Do I really want to know ? What kind of cleaning woman is she?
You’re left in your own puddle of questions during a few black frames and then the tone quickly changes in the second chapter “At work”. There’s no more talking, but an increasingly tense montage in which Eva’s real occupation is revealed. She is shown wearing thick leather gloves, looking at the gun and silencer laid on her wooden table. She carefully screws the silencer on her gun. Shadows now hide her face as elevator doors close behind her. The shots become more erratic and shaky as we’re shown glimpses of her days at work: she can kill at point-blank range, she can kill from a distance, she will get rid of the bodies in the most gruesome of ways. She is a killing machine. These brief moments are carefully mixed with images of her hands grasping prayer beads as she is constantly haunted by the gravity of her actions. The viewer is not let to forget her humanity. This culminates with her getting brutally stabbed by a masked man in an empty parking lot, but not after having put up a proper fight. We’re left wanting as the last few scenes show Eva lying on the floor against the foot of her bed after having slowly (and painfully) pulled out the blade and bleeding heavily.
This is Nikita rebooted in 6 minutes, with no budget, no glidecam, no steadycam, no lights, just the camera and the same lens (Canon 550d/Sigma 30mm f1.4). Done in just 5 days, including post-production, it sets the bar high not just for shorts but for the feature length action flicks out there. Eva Nextdoor is pure concentrated thrill juice. The short is part of the “Monsters Collective”, an association of 12 directors from several different countries. It has been screened at the Festival International Du Film de Genre at Paris/France. The director announces that it will be screened in several upcoming festivals with the other short films of the collective soon. Lets just hope it gets the attention it deserves!
Music used (if you’re curious):
Plastik Joy – 63 (she was trying to sleep, i was trying to breathe)
Blackfilm/Walk with me
For more shorts from this Director, check out Kendy on Vimeo