Starring: Sydni Perry, Kathleen Burke, Tyler Buckingham
Written and Directed: Sarah Wisner & Sean Temple
“We’re gonna get there in the end. It’s an adventure right?”
Gwen (Sydni Perry) and Jade (Kathleen Burke) stop at a creepy motel for the night. It’s unsure how long they’ll stay or where they’re heading to, but when an equally creepy man slams on their window and presents them with a rose, it turns out to be a long night ahead for the girls.
There’s nothing on this planet that I love more than a short film that gives you everything and leaves you wanting a little bit more. THORNS is the latest short from the directing and writing duo Sarah Wisner & Sean Temple, and it’s as brilliant as their other films. THORNS carries a vulnerability to it that a lot of people can exercise either brilliantly or stumble with, and for THORNS, it exceeds with its the landing and nails it.
I’m going to talk about one thing a lot in this short review, and that’s vulnerability. Everything in THORNS reads as a vulnerable moment, mainly in the place and situation the girls find themselves and with the girls themselves. They’re in a creepy-ass motel. Red flag #1. A man just slams himself against their window. Red Flag #2. The man leaves a rose on their windshield. Absolute red fucking flag #3. They should be leaving as soon as possible, right? Jade doesn’t think much about it, which in turn, leads to them in a situation where two things happen that everyone would quickly say “Hell Nah” (I don’t want to spoil those things for you). THORNS has you sitting in a state of exposure with them. You’re running through your mind what could happen at this creepy motel.
Sarah Wisner and Sean Temple write and direct THORNS and make it feel like an urban legend or the making of a campfire-type tale played out in front of you. You don’t know where it will lead. I watched it twice and was shocked by how effective it was in giving me a sense of dreads within the five-minute runtime. Another piece that plays into it is the music. The score by Mattia C. Maurée is hypnotic and eerie, and it leaves you on edge with a pit in your stomach.
Speaking of the girls, THORNS also feels so vulnerable because of the relationship between them. Sydni Perry and Kathleen Burke have great chemistry that equates to something very Thelma and Louise-esque. The nature of their relationship is unclear. Are they dating? Are they best friends? Why did they stop to see Amy? All of these questions could matter, right? But they don’t.
What you do see in their relationship that is vital to the story is played out right in front of you. You care more about the tension in their relationship, because they have to come together to defeat whatever the outside threat is that’s fucking with them. Gwen’s refusal to communicate and lay out the problems is a thorn in Jade’s side. Jade’s refusal to understand there’s a problem at all is a thorn in Gwen’s side. Both of the girls have a relationship where “there is no rose without thorns,” meaning that, to enjoy something awesome, you have to endure the difficult too.
THORNS, in its short time, was so jam-packed with meaning that it’s fantastic on its own. If it were to become a feature film, I’d watch it in a heartbeat. I’m in love with confined spaces where people are at their most vulnerable to a threat of any kind. Wisner and Temple have the ability to make you fall in love with characters and want to know about them in a short amount of time. If you’re able to catch this film, please do yourself a favor and watch it. You won’t be disappointed.