I enjoy short films because they are their own genre with their own rules. Unlike feature-length film, there’s no standard runtime, only an upper limit of 40 minutes (including credits) in order to qualify for Oscar consideration. The fact that shorts usually jump right into the action makes the genre feel freer and less predictable than feature films. I also like that shorts tend not to use a standard three-act narrative structure (exposition-rising action-climax), forsaking it for the sake of moving right to the heart of the story.
The Drop In is only 12 minutes long, but in that time the film manages to delivers two big twists that took me by surprise (which I won’t reveal here). The film starts with a seemingly innocuous encounter that soon turns into a tense, high-stakes confrontation. Even before anything significant is revealed, that tension is apparent between the film’s only two characters. We may not understand why these two are in conflict but we know, whatever the reason, that this face-off means big trouble for Joelle (Mouna Traoré), a Toronto hairstylist who agreed to stay late to help out a new client.
This short feels like the start of a TV series and the abrupt and inconclusive ending left me curious to see more. That’s often the best place to be, with interest piqued, trying to guess both what came before and what comes next. But sometimes both past and future are better left unknown, and I think The Drop In makes the right choice by telling this story in short film form, rather than to try to make it feature length. After all, the first rule of show business is to always leave them wanting more, and The Drop In does exactly that.
Screens (with Mayhem):
Tueday, October 17, 7 PM, Scotiabank Theatre
Ticket information can be found at the Toronto After Dark website.
This review was original published as part of our 2017 TIFF coverage.