Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 20th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 2010
Production Company: Parousian Pictures
Approximate running time: 7 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Letterboxed Widescreen
Director: Angel Connell
Writer: Angel Connell
Cinematographer: Matthew Wagenknecht
Cast: Christy Scott Cashman, Eric Scheiner, Mark Grant, Jennifer McCartney, Angel Connell
Synopsis: A politician looking to tie up some loose ends tricks a small time thug into eliminating his problem – a young woman named Lolita.
Even though the title of any given film often reveals what said film is about, rarely does a film’s title so profoundly encapsulate its essence. Case in point? Angel Connell’s latest film Beneath the Veneer of a Murder.
At the core of this film is a murderous tale that is rooted in deceit. Content-wise even though this film can be seen as a thriller or even a mystery film, the narrative structure often defies these genres’ tried and true conventions. Where most films wait until after the opening credits (or at least only give a hint of what is to come in a pre-credits opening sequence), Beneath the Veneer of a Murder jumps right in head-first the moment said credits roll.
The phone conversation that plays over the opening credits perfectly sets up the plot. This dialogue-based sequence can be seen as the film’s opening act. The film’s only on-camera moment makes up its middle act in which we witness the murder that anchors the story. The film’s final act is a second phone conversation which plays over the end credits.
At just over seven minutes, Beneath the Veneer of a Murder accomplishes more than most feature films do in twelve times the amount of screen time. Something should be said that less often means more and that stripping everything down to its bare essentials only further solidifies any film’s overall impact.
Stylistically the first thing that immediately grabs you while watching Beneath the Veneer of a Murder is the film’s use of voice-over on the opening credits and then reprised for the film’s ending credits. Far too often credits are disregarded – especially end credits. And while some may write this off as an overly stylized way in which to incorporate more information into the overall flow of the narrative, the end result is subtle enough that these opening and closing voice-overs flawlessly blend with the middle on-camera sequence.
Anyone who is familiar with Angel Connell’s other films will be thrilled to learn that Beneath the Veneer of a Murder has the same voyeuristic quality that is present throughout all of his other films. Performance-wise half of the cast never appears on screen. With only their voices being heard, the voice-over performances are very good and convincing. The only two performers who appear on screen are Christy Scott Cashman and Eric Scheiner. Both actors had previously worked together in Angel Connell’s Stocking Stuffers.
Overall Beneath the Veneer of a Murder can be best describe as an audio / visual experience. Far too often films lead viewers in one direction and such a process makes the outcome of said films anticlimactic. Fortunately Beneath the Veneer of a Murder goes against the grain with its slight-of-hand approach to storytelling. The film forces the viewer to ask themselves the following question: "Did what I see really happened the way I think it happened?"