Written by Roy Houston
Directed by Phillip Jordan Brooks
Short films are best when they strive to be the cinematic equivalent of a short story, rather than simply show reels for a filmmaker’s resume; striving for the former makes the latter axiomatic. Flashy camera angles, graphic violence, hyperactive editing… unless it serves the story, it’s just noise which screams about the filmmakers’ insecurities rather than speaking to their strengths. And let me tell you, Nobody But Her flexes a lot of damn muscle.
Well written, confidently directed, this vignette plays far more like an abbreviated “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” or “Hitchhiker” episode than your standard short film.
Written by Roy Houston and directed by Phillip Jordan Brooks (who has worked as an assistant on several genre films including Hatchet II and the I Spit on Your Grave redux), the film opens with an elderly woman in the throes of cardiac arrest on her living room floor. As she frantically presses her Medic Alert button, her eyes are fixed on the legs of a small child who sits not far off and is making no attempts to assist her.
When authorities finally arrive on the scene, they find the woman deceased and discover she was the sole caretaker of an eight-year-old granddaughter named Greta (Leah Catherine Thompson). Greta is stoic, in shock, and of little help in answering the investigators’ questions. Why didn’t she try to help her grandmother? Why didn’t she try to call 911? And where did she get those scratches on her face?
As Greta slowly begins to open up, she relays a dark account of what life was like with grandma; she wasn’t exactly the cookie baking type, was downright abusive and may have actually been homicidal. As the investigators listen to her tale and collect evidence, it becomes clear all is not as it seems, ultimately leading to a reveal that’s well worth waiting for.
Roy Houston’s script attacks the short form with all the same craft and technique as one would a feature film; it’s well plotted, well structured. and wisely takes the traditional Setup, Conflict and Resolution paradigm and concentrates it into something just as impactful. Every minute of screen time is well used, creates mood and propels the story forward quite effectively.
Phillip Jordan Brooks shows a steady confident hand as director and avoids the self-indulgence that often plagues amateur efforts. He and cinematographer Chris Lyon clearly know how to tell a story visually and maximize what’s available to them.
Performances are solid across the board, but a big time shout out goes to Leah Catherine Thompson as Greta. This film lives or dies on her acting chops, and she delivers the goods in spades.
Nobody But Her is an inspired work and a wonderful example of how a short film should be made. Strong concept, strong script, strong execution =
5 out of 5