Two warring gangs agree to meet and exchange prisoners, unaware that each group harbors a deadly secret.
Christopher Zatta’s action short Imbroglio works quickly to establish our two groups of characters before they are about to make the prisoner exchange. As discoveries about each other are made, things go tits up real fast and get very bloody. A knife fight in the kitchen. A shoot out in the paddock. Once those secrets are revealed, a lot of people die quickly.
The action in Imbroglio is more so a shootout, in a gated enclosure, than any other type of action. But you do not cast Zoe Bell and not let her get into a melee. So no sooner has Zoe Bell entered through a back window and she gets into a quick but ‘holy fuck’ gruesome knife fight and is covered with the blood of her vanquished foe. The sound effects work in this less than a minute melee border on sickening, they are that good.
Zatta displays excellent control over the speed of his action, utilizing high-speed cameras to capture reactions and some falls. Here, every time he uses it, it feels right. I also appreciate how low Zatta places his camera throughout most of his short film, hardly ever going higher than the heads of his cast, but mostly around the midsection and lower. It places us beneath the action, beneath the players, establishing prominence over the viewer. In a way it makes the action bigger, playing over and near our heads.
What also caught my eye was that most of the gang members do not look particularly threatening, as if they are almost plucked from the blue-collar sales catalogue. They nearly look like the commoners that Hollywood faux gangsters would use and abuse on their rise up the crime food chain. The short does not have to explain what each gang does in the world of crime but these two have definitely crossed paths, have a history, and will meet for the last time.
There is a hint of dark humor at the end as well, which I cannot comment on lest it ruin the surprise.
Christopher Zatta's short film and proof of concept Imbroglio had its World Premiere at the festival last week.
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