‘Midnight Error’ Review: A short film that delivers some genuine moments of shock and nail-biting suspense

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review

By Murtaza Ali Khan

Ketan Chavda's short film, Midnight Error, recently premiered at the 5th Dehradun International Film Festival. It was earlier screened at the LIFT-OFF-GLOBAL Film Festival, London. The story and screenplay is written by Sritama Dutta. Midnight Error is also the official selection for Bollywood International Film Festival – Norway. 'MIDNIGHT ERROR' has got selected for Indian Film Festival of Ireland 2019. It will be screened at Technological University Dublin on November 16.

Midnight Error stars veteran Indian actor Rajit Kapur in the lead role of Indresh—a retired Brigadier who is forced to spend a night at a remote lodge after his car breaks down. The lodge is owned by a couple, Lily and her wheelchair-bound husband Omkar. Once a decorated soldier, Indresh is suffering from a heart condition. From the moment Indresh steps enters lodge he looks a little anxious. He grows more and more restless with each passing moment. Is his fear imaginary or is he really in grave danger in an isolated lodge amidst complete strangers?

Hitchcockian motifs drive the taut narrative that never drags or loses focus. Interestingly, the short film is shot over a single night and it is well reflected in the spontaneity of its pacy narrative. Chavda’s previous experience as director on numerous shows for Zee seems to come handy. He never loosens his control over the subject material. As a result, Midnight Error succeeds in keeping one hooked till the very last moment.

The film is co-produced by Tanima Bhattacharya, Chetan Sharma, and Deepi Sanjeev Jain. Now, Tanima and Chetan are primarily actors whose passion for cinema goes beyond acting. In their young careers they have already delivered some memorable performances. While Chetan has acted in films like Ankhon Dekhi, Lanka, Parched, and Sankaal, among others, and most recently in the second season of Sacred Games, Tanima is best known for her award winning turn in Saankal. In fact, it was while working on Sankaal that the two of them decided to further expand their creative collaboration. And that's how Rare Stones Production was born—the banner under which they have produced Midnight Error.

Tanima, who essays the part of Lilly in Midnight Error, shares an interesting chemistry with Rajit Kapur. There is an obvious sexual tension between the two characters, a sort of a gender reversal on Psycho. Of course the plot itself hardly bears any similarity to Hitchcock's seminal work with the exception of its setting. Chetan, on the other hand, plays a more enigmatic part that doesn't fully unravel until the final few minutes of the short film.

In the recent years, short films have significantly grown in stature as a potent conduit for cinematic storytelling. Midnight Error doesn't shy away from delivering some genuine moments of shock and nail-biting suspense in its short running time of 16 minutes. Here is a short film which demonstrates how the medium can be used to economically tell a compelling story without resorting to cheap thrills.

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