Main Cast: Linda Roser, Diana Riley

Director: Domonic Smith

I’m gonna try to do this WITHOUT spoilers, because this movie is SHORT and the plot is so simple, it would be super easy to spill every detail and not break a sweat.  I could sum this one up in two sentences if I wanted to.  But that wouldn’t make much of a review.  So …

2016’s Domonic Smith-written and directed short film VAN is proof that not everything shown on the Alter YouTube channel is gold…

I found this 9-minute and 37-second short lacking in so many areas, but most importantly in story and scares.  The “plot” deals with Laura and Julia.  In the opening, Laura (Linda Roser) is seen driving with Julia (Diana Riley) asleep in the passenger seat.  Laura keeps dozing off and, next thing you know, she gets a video call from Julia asking to be picked up.

The call drops and the rest of the film is Laura trying to find Julia in a parking lot where there’s no Julia, only a menacing-looking van parked.  She texts Julia and says she’s in the parking lot and there’s no Julia, only a van.  Julia says what van.  So Laura approaches the van, calling to Julia.  Later, Julia drops a revelatory bomb on Laura that is anything BUT revelatory if you’ve been paying attention to even thirty seconds of this “film”.

Now, I’m not saying VAN is garbage and all copies should be shot into the sun, I’m just saying it’s not scary at all, it’s predictable as all hell, and if I’m going to spend even 9 ½ minutes of my time watching something, I like it to have at least ONE surprise for me.  VAN has none, and that sucks because it doesn’t look terrible. I feel like whoever Domonic Smith is, he knows his way around a film, short or otherwise (his many credits include digital imaging technician on TIGER KING and the Kevin Smith-directed KILLROY WAS HERE).  This just isn’t the story to introduce yourself to the world with.  Because it’s barely a story.

Trust me, you’ve seen this one before, and done WAY better every other time.

Roser and Riley aren’t terrible in their roles, they’re just given so little to work with, even they had to be rolling their eyes thinking, “How am I going to act surprised or scared of THIS?”

Without giving anything away, I feel like the setup here had potential, but the follow-through was just so tired and cliché, once we reached a point of no return, there was no saving VAN.  And, again, it was a decently-MADE movie, the story just wasn’t there.  And at only 9 minutes and 37 seconds, you’re really gonna need a hell of a story to sell it.  Maybe next time…

If you really want to, you can watch VAN on YouTube.

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