By JG Hanks
“The world is asleep, dreaming, peaceful, safe. These are the hours I love. When all that I hate is silent and unconscious. The world is different when people are asleep. Better. I wish they would sleep forever. But they always wake up and ruin everything.”
With Familiar, Richard Powell and Zach Green of Fatal Pictures take us (literally) inside the troubled mind of a man who is fed up with his life. John Dodd (brilliantly played by Robert Nolan) hates his wife Charlotte (Astrida Auza) and daughter Jordan (Cathryn Hostick) – although seemingly less so than his wife. He resents them for taking away all of his hopes and desires and yearns to break free from the shackles he believes they have imposed on him. While his actions display a loving husband and father, they belie his true feelings, which are revealed through the voice over of his internal thoughts. As his daughter is set to attend college in four months, John plans on leaving his wife and never looking back. As he puts it, “After forty five years of existence, my life is about to begin.”
As with most great stories, this is where the conflict begins. John’s wife reveals to him news that will set back his plan to leave and John reacts, internally of course, with the seven stages of grief – minus everything but the anger. He devises a plan to take care of the problem at home and, in the process, makes things much worse. As his wife recovers, John’s internal dialogue becomes much more devious and sinister. It’s almost as if it is now an alternate personality.
This is where my take on the film may differ from some. At this point, I believe John snaps. In his mind, he creates a reality that can explain what is happening to him and that will allow him to deal with what is going on. The horror elements that are introduced are done so, at least to me, from the perspective that John alone can see them. Without spoiling the ending, the easiest explanation is that John buckles from the pressure of the reality of his insurmountable situation and we are left with the result of that snap.
For a film just over 23 minutes, Familiar packs quite a punch. Kudos to the team at Fatal Pictures for not extending the film’s story in efforts to make a feature out of a short.