The introduction starts off with the sound of a car off screen, followed by the image of a car riding through a dirt road. This two second off screen sound was interesting, since it allowed me to visualize the protagonist’s world before actually seeing it.
The long shot at the end of the scene was very smart, since it allowed viewers to get a better sense of the setting. It appears as though the characters are driving down a deserted dirt road, with nothing but rocks and mountains surrounding them. There seems to be no other cars or people, signifying that this must be a back road of some sort.
In the next scene, the soundtrack changes from mellow music to more of an upbeat tune. This provided a realistic feeling of what the card mood was like. I felt the nostalgia of being a little kid riding in the car as my dad blasted his favorite music on the radio.
The cinematography in the car scene was fantastic, and I’m highly intrigued to know how the camera was kept so steady and focused like that. The camera position during the shot of Leo playing with the toy loader made me feel as though I was on the other end of the seat. It was almost as if the camera lens was meant to represent the direction of my eyes.
I’m normally very picky when it comes to editing, but the transition of Leo and his toy loader to the backhoe loader outside gets an immediate A+ from me. Not only is it a smooth way to transition deeper into the narrative, but it gives the audience a sense of what Leo’s personality is like. His reaction to the loader implies that he’s very passionate about construction.
During that same scene, the audience gets a sample of how each character differs. Leo is very persistent with wanting to drive the car, his mother laughs and seems like a softy, and his father is strict and very serious. With most films, it takes a while for the audience to get a sense of the different character arcs. However, it amazed me that it took just a few seconds for us to see what each character was like, both internally and externally.
When the boulder fell from the sky and headed right toward the car, my immediate reaction was to yell at the father to watch the road. I was able to immediately identify with the mother right then and there.
The special effects were absolutely mind blowing, from the boulders to the car exploding. The editor seemed to have a vast experience in After Effects, or a program similar to that. The boulders looked so realistic, and it seemed as though there were two different narratives being presented in that shot. The first narrative was of Leo’s father rejecting his request to drive up front, while the second narrative was the boulder speeding toward the car.
As if the boulder didn’t cause enough damage to the car, now suddenly, there’s a fire. This just adds onto the conflict in the story, creating more tension between each of the characters. I appreciate the fact that the director kept the concept of realism in the film’s diegesis. Most mothers would put their children first, which is why Leo’s mother made sure that he was able to climb out of the back window, safe and away from the fire. Meanwhile, his father was still passed out.
I won’t include a major spoiler, but what happens next is breathtaking and shows how much Leo’s parents really mean to him. He took a leap of faith and risked his life to make sure that his parents were safe, and that showed how mature he was for his age. I also like the drastic change in character arcs from beginning to end, especially with Leo’s father.
Between the precise editing, stable cinematography, realistic visual effects, creative writing and prestigious directing, Beyond is a must see short film suitable for all ages.