First-time filmmaker George James Fraser goes in hard on Happenstance, an eleven minute short that’s most definitely not for the squeamish. A self-labelled “blood-soaked love story”, it starts out in the mould of grimy, serial killer exploitation before veering into seriously unexpected territory. It’s a bold, unapologetically tough statement of intent from Fraser that effectively brings together an unusual combination of elements, and leaves you undeniably curious about what might come next from the director.
Before the opening title, a woman flees through a forest before ultimately being knocked unconscious by an unnamed protagonist (Kevin Whittier). Having been dragged back to his den, she’s clinically dispensed with as a horde of his previous captives look on. It’s a grisly, intense opening that sets a suitably bleak tone. However, that tone unexpectedly doubles back on itself almost immediately as the man goes in search of his next victim, and bites off a little more than he can chew.
It’s difficult to expand too far on Happenstance without giving too much away, but its tonal shift is surprising while still feeling organic, examining its Natural Born Killers-style elements through a densely macabre filter. Bold, brash and blackly humorous, it’s definitely going to elicit some extreme reactions, but this is rewardingly uneasy stuff.