Review: A Stranger From The Past (2020)

Courtesy of NIFFF

They say the past is never dead and the protagonist of Jan Verdijk’s action-packed short horror film A Stranger from the Past is about to learn it the hard way. What was supposed to be a peaceful night at the garage for a car mechanic, with only oldtimer cars and easy-listening music on the radio to keep him company, turns out to be a night of combat to survive. The reason for that is stated in the title and appears instead of the engine under the car hood. The burnt monster-looking figure probably wants revenge, but it might have a weak spot: his taste for gasoline.

A Stranger from the Past is quite a kinetic work of genre cinema packed in just over five minutes of runtime. Jan Verdijk’s sense of directing is classical and the way he commands the tempo is masterful. From the camerawork by Thijmen Doornik that shifts from calm to hand-held, wild and the precise rapid editing by Joshua Menco to the pulsating dark synth music by Koen van de Wardt, we know what we are in for all the time. Even the minimal characterization in Verdijk’s script serves its purpose. Things are sometimes at their best when they are kept simple and efficient.

A Stranger from the Past currently plays at the International Shorts Competition of the jubilee 20th edition of Neuchatel International Fantastic Film Festival.

Year: 2020
Runtime: 5’ 12’’
Country: The Netherlands
Language: No dialogue
Directed by: Jan Verdijk
Written by: Jan Verdijk
Cast: Jochum ten Haaf, Reinier Schimmel
Cinematography by: Thijmen Doornik
Editing by: Joshua Menco
Music by: Koen van de Wardt
Sound recording by: Hein Verhoeven
Production design by: Jeroen Echter
Make-up by: Renee Wijnhoven
Special effects by: Rob Hillenbrink
Visual effects by: Jos Wabeke
Stunts by: Simon van Lammeren
Colourist: Ruben Labree
Assistant director: Rene Jonkers
Produced by: Daniel Dow, Jolien Snyers
Production company: DPPLR
Supported by: Amsterdamse Fonds voor de Kunst, Cinesud