October 18, 2013
Corey Norman, Haley Norman
Jessica Fratus as Carissa
Chara Victoria Gannett as Jess
Erik Moody as Tristan
Andrew Sawyer as Derek
The wild and uncontrollable let their freak flags fly. The aspiring celluloid geniuses let their desire to create an alternate universe rule their realms. I like both of these personality types, because even when they’re completely off-base, and destined to kamikaze quicker than an American pilot who’s spent more time in bullet infested skies than with his new bride, who waits back home in Kansas, struggling to keep up with their already rambunctious one-year old, they both invest everything they’ve got inside in whatever notion drives them. And,Natal, brainchild of Corey and Haley Norman, feels like it’s got a little freak, and a little genius buried in the cuts, which makes for a relatively endearing piece of work.
It’s difficult to create a high quality, intricately assembled production when you’re working with a virtually non-existent budget and a 25 minute package pre-prepped for delivery. Squeezing a complete, cohesive movie into 25 minutes is a lot like squeezing an extensive novel into 50 pages. It rarely works, and typically wears the signs of neglect like obvious war scars. But Natal, despite its flaws, somehow develops a thorough tale, condenses with precision and delivers, all in under 30 minutes.
Carissa is a head case, who – ironically – seems to have the strongest, or at least most stable, mental base when it comes to her group of friends, which includes her beau, Tristan, mutual friend, Derek and his obnoxious lady, Jess. However, the truth of the matter is, none of these 20-somethings seems to be entirely what they appear to be, and a whole slew of secrets will wriggle toward the light as a weekend away at Carissa’s family cabin quickly flies by. Carissa seems to be hallucinating. Her friends are behaving a bit atypical, and there’s a strange sound – something between scratching and fluttering – that Carissa hears on a nightly basis. What’s it all mean? How, exactly, are these oddities directly related to one another? We’ll find out in the final few minutes of the pic, which come fast and deliver the unexpected (and rather gratifying).
This one isn’t perfect by any stretch. It’s got its hiccups in the story, and there are a few moments in which the acting feels as amateur as it actually is. But for a really small picture with nothing more than a massive yearning to deliver consumers something special, it’s really damn impressive. You can see that this is a pit without funds filling it, and it’s apparent that everyone attached is on the green side. But holy shit, these guys and gals really, really try, and I can’t help but respect the hell out of anyone who says, look – I’ve got nada, but I refuse to let that stop me from making an inspired piece of artwork. This is commendable stuff.
I really liked the look of the film, as stylistically it’s well-shot, and there are a few creative camera maneuvers that distance Natal from the typical micro budget. In fact, Natal has quite a few elements separating it from the “average” shoestring installment, the most relevant being a heart and a pair of cods. A little technical knowledge certainly doesn’t hurt, either. What’s nice about this one is, the more I reflect on it the more I respect it. Don’t go out of your way to find this one expecting the world in a half-hour; expect a rewarding little flick that showcases big promise from a few young actors as well as filmmakers Corey and Haley Norman, who both have a very promising future in this business.