Starring Thomas R. Martin, Heather Ricks, Walter Colson, Stephen Ezell
Directed by L. Gustavo Cooper
Set amid a backdrop of the racially inflamed tensions of the segregated South, L. Gustavo Cooper delivers an impressive short film based on a sudden and shocking zombie invasion (not that there’s really any other kind) with his new film Velvet Road.
Dealing with a zombie outbreak is bad enough, but Velvet Road infuses different social issues that make survival even more difficult. Media hype and the reporting of half-truths and embellishments divide individuals in this story, fueling the already intense fire of racism. A news report overheard in the intro of the film informs viewers that the world believes “…the entire Negro population has already been infected…” with the mysterious affliction that is causing humans to devolve into bloodthirsty, mindless flesh-eaters.
The film begins in a very similar fashion to Stephen King’s epic tale The Stand, with a young couple doing their best to outrun an unknown infection in their car. And, as in The Stand, this proves to be a futile effort. Velvet Road is beautifully shot with Cooper delivering some gorgeous imagery to visually enhance his tale.
The film was written by Bragi Schut and Alexandria Lewis, and they managed to beautifully capture several powerful interactions between the characters in this brief 13-minute film. We sympathize most strongly with Bobby, the main character, who finds himself not only trying to save his wife and unborn child from the deadly infection but also surviving a brutal (and slickly shot) automobile roll-over accident before confronting an African-American man in an obviously dire circumstance of his own. Bobby must decide between what he’s been told by the media is the truth and what he knows is the right thing to do.
A short film, especially one just over 10 minutes long, can consider itself a success if it manages to draw the viewer in and deliver one big, killer moment. In and out. Velvet Road goes well beyond that one-shot goal. The creators manage to generate empathy for several characters in a very short amount of time. Impressive. However, additional credit for this accomplishment must be given to the cast; Thomas R. Martin, Heather Ricks, Walter Colson and Stephen Ezell were all very convincing in their roles. The F/X department responsible for creating the nightmares in Velvet Road did a commendable job as well bringing their monsters to life.
One of the more impressive shorts you’ll see, Velvet Road does not settle for the traditional zombie invasion story. Much like any good post-apocalyptic tale of solitude and struggle, Velvet Road focuses on the interaction between characters trapped in an impossible situation. It is indeed how one person responds to another in any kind of volatile climate that makes a story horrific or uplifting. Velvet Road shows you one possible story of adversity against seemingly insurmountable events and how a man can elevate himself even in the most impossible of situations. Then the overwhelming reality of the world becomes apparent, and Velvet Road lowers the boom on you. A very impressive short film.
4 out of 5