“There is no way across”
When you think about the vastness of our brains and the myriad roads of memory leading down rabbit holes of hopes, aspirations, fears, and regret, it can become a daunting proposition. How often do we get lost along those paths—recalling moments from our pasts, failures that keep our anxiety and insecurities so high we refuse to believe there could be anything else? It’s a desolate wasteland where we must face the truth, an adversarial force telling us we cannot reach our potential just as outside entities try to cajole us into thinking we can. Ultimately neither can decide for us, that choice is laid squarely on our shoulders. And sometimes taking that leap is to risk our very lives.
This is the point where we meet Rian (played by screenwriter Kaylon Hunt), caught literally at The Brink inside Ben Jendras‘ short film of the same name. His senses are on full alert, crusted sand and infinity stretching as far as his eyes can see in every direction except for a bright beacon glimmering on the other side of a canyon quarantining him in a state of hopelessness. Struggling to shake himself from the hold of uncertainty and despair, a friend appears to save him from the fall. This nameless soul (Marcus Choi) is the only thing keeping him alive, the countless footprints and sneaking suspicion of having been here before revealing to Rian that this light has called to him before.
Then come the memories depicting a time before the void—a nervous Rian about to deliver a speech with Jane (Diarra Kilpatrick) championing him to do so even as fear cripples him into a standstill. At first it seems to show a mirror, the past and present merging together with a kind-hearted optimist talking him down from a ledge. One is literal, the other inside Rian’s mind, and both these friends there to supply a push back. But something isn’t quite right as Jendras jolts us back and forth more rapidly, lightning crashing to punctuate the emotive peril. Where Choi and Kilpatrick are introduced as equals, their inclusion quickly unravels into the reality that they might be the antithesis of each other instead.
The Brink proves an effective psychological thriller as a result, a glimpse at a man fighting an internal battle against the belief he doesn’t have anything to offer society. For all we know he could be the savoir of mankind, the key to preventing whatever post-apocalyptic nightmare we find him in at the beginning, if only he’ll work up the courage to speak. Or maybe that expansive desert is a self-constructed prison, holding his potential back—himself the only hero and villain to choose a helping hand from. He is on the edge of oblivion like so many around us, trapped motionless within a world too big and too unknown. Until we risk ridicule, risk being labeled a pariah, we’ll never know exactly what we can accomplish.