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Mallas, MA (2013) : Writtem by Sean Meehan, Daniel Berube and Todd Mahoney; directed by Sean Meehan
Produced by Team Fix It In Post
**1/2 out of ****
Two con artists, posing as paranormal investigators, are summoned to a fictional Massachusetts town to create the illusion that ghosts exist, I assume, to help bolster tourism. When the tricksters encounter a strange young girl in the gloomy basement of a client’s house, things change. Who is she? What is she?
This is the set up for director Sean Meehan’s Mallas, MA, an impressively shot, if somewhat clumsily written, dark comedy that manages to engage because of some truly outstanding camera work and the performances of actors Timothy J. Cox and Maria Natapov. What is most impressive about Meehan’s film is that it was written, shot and edited in 48 hours, as part of the 48 Hour Film Project in Boston, where it snagged an Audience Award in the spring of 2013.
Cox stars as one part of the con artist team, the dryly cynical Brian Higgins, who along with Natapov’s Maria Synder, try to pull the ghost con on the town of Mallas (fun name). Maria’s the beauty and Brian’s the brains, the Egon Spangler of the pair, always fiddling with some make believe ghost detecting gadget. Where Natapov’s Maria looks all business all the time, Cox’s Brian looks a little exhausted from the con game, a look that goes perfectly with his grizzled beard, rumpled jacket and glasses, which are permanently perched on his nose. Both performers bring a subtlety and warmth to their roles, with Cox’s performance especially standing out.
(Maria Natapov and Timothy J. Cox star in Mallas, MA)
For a film that was written, shot and edited in 48 hours and still manages to look this good (Rick Macomber’s camera work here is exceptional, as is Meehan and Daniel Berube’s editing) I am willing to forgive a trouble spot for Meehan and co-writers Berube and Todd Mahoney in the writing department, namely the ending where Cox’s cynical Brian is suddenly struck with a conscience, deciding to fold the con while he and his partner appear on a late night show to discuss what they’ve discovered, paranormally speaking. The shift in Cox’s entire character comes out of nowhere. The scene could have worked perfectly, if we had had a little more insight into Brian’s character at this point in the story or a clue that a shift like this was coming. True, there were a series of montages leading up to this scene where you could see Brian softening a little, warming up to the mysterious young girl (played by twin sisters Uatchet Jin and Nekhebet Kum Juch) but we needed a lot more.
Again, this movie was made in 48 hours. I’m willing to cut Meehan and team some slack here. They have the beginnings of something really interesting here. With a fully laid out production schedule, time and money, Mallas, MA would make one heck of a fun picture. As it stands now, the short lays the ground work for something bigger.
For information on Mallas, MA, please visit the Internet Movie Database, where it has received numerous reviews from all over the net.
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