REVIEW: Briefcase [2012]

Score: 8/10 | ★ ★ ★

Rating: NR | Runtime: 6 minutes | Release Date: February 13th, 2012 (USA)
Studio: More Than Productions
Director(s): Andre Welsh
Writer(s): Nate Golon

“I didn’t know what was inside”

One could say reapers are the contract killers out to release us from this mortal coil when time expires. We don’t know when or where our end will be, but it’s always looming out of sight—behind us, around a corner, or perhaps innocuously hidden right before our eyes. The day-to-day serves as a means to distract from our ultimate demise, keeping us forever looking towards the future as a fulfilling journey worth forgetting the harsh reality that we begin to die as soon as we’re conceived. It cannot be avoided.

Nate Golon‘s short film Briefcase touches upon this idea throughout its rapid race towards inevitability. A work that begs a second look to fully comprehend the weight and detail of what occurs, the payoff of discovering the metaphorical underpinnings is well worth your time. Appearing as though merely a suspense thriller utilizing a trope popularized in Pulp Fiction—the discovery of a case with contents unseen yet known as powerful courtesy of reactions from those we watch peer inside—there is a deeper message at play.

Difficult to discuss without giving too much away, I’ll simply ask that you accept there being more than meets the eye where the antagonistic force is concerned. Centering on Carter (Golon)—a regular Joe caught within routine—the common act of filling tires at the gas station begins an evening that will change everything. Alertly rigid after hearing foreboding sounds nearby, Carter happens to direct his gaze at the abandoned briefcase of the title a few feet away. As curiosity compels him to open the clasps, a police vehicle pulls up with two men shrouded in shadow—stern of expression yet devoid of haste in apprehending the gentleman caught in fear by their headlights.

Obviously shaken by what he saw, Carter escapes to buy time and attempt to make sense of his ordeal. Entering Sam’s (Nadine Nicole Heimann) apartment, where she and her boyfriend (Tobias Mehler) wonder what possessed him to call at such a late hour, Carter explains by the simple act of opening the case. The reality of the situation suddenly becomes confused as a result of Mehler’s character appearing to know too much about what happening. The mysterious men arrive and the chase continues until day breaks on a weeping Carter—briefcase clutched close to his breast—about to discover the truth behind the last few chaotic hours.

Tautly written by Golon and expertly shot by director Andre Walsh through artistic compositions of the night sky’s deep blacks against artificial light’s shining haze, Briefcase is an intriguing look at fate and the distress our knowing the futures can create. As a tragic epilogue helps explain, the story doesn’t begin or end with Carter, he is but one of the many. We all move through existence on a path some believe they have control over, but whether they do or not, being ignorant to the plan may be the only salvation. Once we become aware of what’s to happen, acknowledging nothing can be done can only prove devastating.

And as the leader (John Zderko) of the nameless men in pursuit of both case and he who looked inside explains, there is no escape when the end of the line is met. However, like the great “Dead Like Me” portrayed, perhaps these hooded figures aren’t leading us to our death but rather guiding our transition between worlds. The question Golon posits then becomes: What happens when we cheat fate? His answer unfortunately shows our lives as finite—when the reaper comes to collect, the responsibility of ensuring there’s a soul to take becomes its own.

Watch it here

[1] Nate Golon
[2] John Zderko as the COP
[3] Nadine Heimann as SAM

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