- Ghosts of Empire Prairie (2013) Review

Title: Still Water

Also known as:

Year: 2005

Genre: Short / Independent / Thriller

Language: Chinese

Runtime: 4 min

Director: Jason Chan

Writer: Jason Chan


On a rooftop in Singapore, a woman is attending her little garden. In a window above her, a neighbor is watching her through his camera. When the woman brings a man home, a darker side of herself comes out.

Our thoughts:
The Viewster Online Film Festival has a ton of really short films and while I am mostly curious about the mid-length to full-length features for reviewing right now, the shorter ones are very easy to get through in small breaks throughout the day. This 2005 short from Singapore was one of them, which attracted me by simply seeming like it was shot on film (which I believe it was).

On top of an apartment building roof, a woman is attending her plants while a man with a camera is watching her from a neighboring window. He continues to follow her once she goes out for the day, and witnesses her coincidental meeting with a man, who she continues to spend the day with. Once it's time for the two to go back home and see where the night takes them, the man will see why you shouldn't follow strangers home.

"Still Water" doesn't do much that other movies haven't, plotwise. It's just a small encounter ending in murder, with an intriguing build-up of voyeurism. Okay, the later part might be something that stands out, but still the most important aspect is how quickly they establish personality in the characters. Where many short-shorts are lacking - by simply not giving us any reason to care about... well, anything at all - "Still Water" is packed with reasons to be curios from the get-go. Who is the voyeur and what drives the woman to do what she does? It's rather unfortunate that we only get 4 minutes, and can only speculate on the answers. This could have been worked on further, at least pushing it to 15-20 minutes. That's a small issue, of course.

You gotta love the look of 16mm, which brings out the wonderful colors of the plants, the dirt of the city and finally (and most importantly) it enhances the very small amount of blood we see, making it much clearer to see.

If you're a fan of films by Takashi Ishii or similar filmmakers, then I think this could be your cup of tea. It's a curious, voyeuristic and briefly sadistic compact little film that says a lot through it's characters, without extensive dialogue. The story doesn't give us much to go on and what we get isn't that original, but the overall film succeeds completely in what was intended. It might not be a masterpiece, but for 4 minutes of your time it's worth it. You can watch it at the Viewster Online Film Festival before it ends on September 25th 2014, or visit their Youtube page.

Positive things:
- Intriguing.
- Good use of its colors.
- Expressive characters help sell a brief story which doesn't have the time to say much.
- Reminiscent of some great sadistic Asian films.

Negative things:
- How could the voyeur take pictures from some of those angles? It's nitpicking, but it bothered me a bit.
- It should've been longer.

Gore: 0.5/5
Nudity: 0/5
Story: 3/5
Effects: 3/5
Comedy: 0.5/5

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It can also be watched at:

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