Val has lost control of her life. Those around her deny the reality of the extraordinary experiences she feels powerless against. Realizing she must stand alone, she has only one remaining option – to find a way to fight back.

Every once in a while, a really awesome short film comes along. Today’s featured short is most certainly falls into that category. 88:88 is one of those films that has so much to talk about, but you don’t want to talk about it because you don’t want to spoil anything for the viewer. All you can really say is ‘trust me, watch it!’ But I still need to write something about it, so I’ll do my best not to spoil anything.

The film was part of the YouTube Your Film Festival (read our blog on the festival) presented by Ridley Scott and qualified as a top 10 finalist with over 15 000 submissions. The festival was finally won by Spanish film ‘La Culpa‘, but we strongly believe that 88:88 could have equally won this competition.

So why so good? This film has just about every ingredient that you need for an awesome recipe. Starting from the unusual story, the cinematography, acting, sound effects, music and the most important, build up and tension. With very little dialogue, 88:88 manages to build up intrigue for the first half of the movie, as the main actress struggling with some unknown issues, intensely prepares for something. Then comes the second part of the film, where the intrigue becomes never-ending suspense, as the questions turn from ‘what is she doing?’ to ‘what does she have?’ to ‘what will happen?’.

The script was brilliantly written by Sean Wilson and Joey Ciccoline, working around character development without giving away what her struggles are. They quickly manage to make the viewer build a bond with Val, although we don’t know what is wrong with her, we still develop a sense of care for the person.

The filming along with editing was impeccable, using mainly close ups and vivid sounds to build the atmosphere of uncertainty. Joey uses his shots wisely, even if we follow the character for a while without any evident advancements on the plot, the timing of each shot helps build the tension and questions around what is happening, without giving anything too obvious away.

We had a lot of fun, while writing, intentionally leaving ways for people to come up with a variety of different things that she could be preparing for. The crazy thing is that people keep telling us about what they thought was happening and so often it’s situations we never even thought of.

– Joey Ciccoline, interview excerpt from Death and Taxes

I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for credit music. Or not so much the credit music, but the climactic songs that films choose to close to. In 88:88, just after the film goes through its most intense moments, and you say ‘how can this get any better?’, we get yet another musical surprise to give the film a wonderful final crescendo that will give you goosebumps. The track is called ‘A Glowing Light, A Promise’ by Makeup and Vanity Set who created the soundtrack for the film. The synthesized duo captured the mood of the film perfectly with eery subtle synths to build up along with the visuals.

… as soon as I started listening to it I knew it was perfect. I dropped it in the edit and suddenly the film felt complete. It really seems to come in and say, “the film is done, and wasn’t that awesome?!” It feels like cheating, slightly.

– Joey Ciccoline, interview excerpt from Death and Taxes

The band went on to create an entire album based on the short, and I can only suggest you listen to it! Makeup and Vanity Set album entitled ’88:88′ like the short sounds like a dramatic mix between M83, Big Black Delta, Com Truise and definite hints of Daft Punk‘s Tron soundtrack. Oh, and I can definitely see it as a part of the awesome ‘Drive’ soundtrack. I’ve said enough, listen for yourself!
Make sure to read the full interview with director Joey Ciccoline on Death and Taxes Mag