Movie Short Review: ‘Gridlock’ Is Captivating

Greetings again from the darkness. For short film enthusiasts, a tension-packed thriller is the Holy Grail. It requires remarkably efficient writing, high-level acting, and expert directing to push us to the edge of our seat in a matter of minutes. Director Ian Hunt Duffy and writer Darach McGarrigle deliver just that … all in a captivating 19 minute run time.

A seemingly stressed Eoin (Moe Dunford) is driving his young daughter Emma (Robyn Dempsey) on a narrow back road in the Irish countryside when they encounter a traffic jam. The dad leaves the car for just a couple of minutes to check out the cause of the delay, and when he returns, the daughter is gone.

What follows is a commentary on the quick escalation of a mob mentality, and the varying personalities seen during times of traumatic events. A young girl is missing so everyone is a suspect and each is pointing fingers and jumping to conclusions. The acting, led by Mr. Dunford, is terrific. Peter Coonan is Rory, the over-eager leader who attempts to solve the case through his snap judgments. Ronan Leahy and Amy De Bhrun play the couple in the car behind Eoin’s who inexplicably claim to have not seen anything, and whose sole defense is their status as a “respectable” couple. Steve Wall is terrific as he confronts Eoin head-on after being suspected.

The performances are all grounded in reality, as are the emotions. We are all familiar with the frustration of a traffic jam, or that sinking feeling of panic when our child goes missing for even one second. The disorientation felt by those in the middle of this event is spot on, and the drama with the toy doll combined with the superlative plot twist makes this a quite special short film. It’s also a chance to quickly sharpen your whodunit skills prior to the release of the upcoming remake of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS.

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