Dearly Departed (2020)
Director: Elise Martin
Screenwriter: Jess Bartlett, Elise Martin
Starring: Betty Denville, Ashton Spear, William Paul, Olivia Warren, Sean Kilty
Dearly Departed is not your average musical. For one, it has a particularly talented female-fronted crew, and two, it has ghosts. Imagine a mixture of Waitress and The Sixth Sense, and you’ve got Elise Martin and Jess Bartlett’s entertaining new short.
Having recently finished a hugely successful worldwide festival circuit, Dearly Departed has already snapped up several Short Film awards, such as ‘Best International Film’ at Carolina Fear Fest and ‘Best Short Film’ and ‘Best Writing’ at Sick Chick Flicks, to name just a few.
In a house full of spirits, Vera learns to balance her relationship with both the living and the dead as she discovers what she truly desires in life and in love.
More than three years of hard work, sweat and tears have gone into Martin and Bartlett’s exquisite mash-up of movie genres, offering a unique and intriguingly imaginative story that is unlike anything in the film industry’s repertoire. By blending the distinct filmic tropes of musicals and horrors, the Dearly Departed team create a captivating and honestly beautiful short film. The premise is clear immediately – Vera (Betty Danville) is looking for love with Fred (Ashton Spear), but her home’s resident spirits can’t stand the thought of her leaving – and she can’t let them go. With the tuneful assistance of her ‘dearly departed’ friends, Vera realises there’s only one way to get what she truly desires.
Dearly Departed‘s special effects and cinematography mark a particularly successful aspect of the film, with specific camera angles and set design working together to create poignant moments throughout – the strawberry on the cake looked especially scrumptious. Along with this, the fantastic original music intertwines perfectly with the fairytale-esque storytelling, transitioning through Vera and Fred’s relationship effortlessly. There is also a gorgeous colour palette present. Soothing vintage-style pastel tones brighten Vera’s home, creating a welcoming place of grandeur for Vera and her deceased friends. The young and talented quintet of actors in Dearly Departed definitely add strength to the film, with William Paul, Olivia Warren and Sean Kilty joining Danville and Spear as the musically melancholic spirits.
Within the cheerfully wicked picture there is, however, room for improvement. The lighting is often presented in an opposing tone to its complementing scene, sometimes highlighting too much or too little of the setting and actors, but it is worth bearing in mind that this is a minor flaw which certainly doesn’t take the viewer away from the captivating narrative.
Dearly Departed is a funny and wholesome short film with a wonderfully evil twist. With just 13 minutes of run time, the amount of effort used to create this stunning production is still very evident. The fresh, original talents of Martin, Bartlett and their team present a delightfully fun movie in Dearly Departed and have established themselves as significant up-and-coming filmmakers and creative individuals.