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Like Animals

Written by: Leland Montgomery , Tom Dugdale |   Directed by: Leland Montgomery |  Genre: Short , Drama

 Following the death of their mother, a family is forced to deal with the aftermath… and each other in this short film from writers Leland Montgomery and Tom Dugdale. The death of one or both parents is devastating at any time, but what follows can be equally as trying. Mary, ( Zoe Chao) Irene, ( Tera McHenry ) and Olga, ( Cass Bugge ) all live in the small town they grew up in. Their brother Andy ( Chris Aguila ) has been living with his fiance Nate, ( William Thomas Hodgson ) in the city and has left small town life behind. For unsaid reasons, Nate is the executor of the estate and almost feels like an outsider within the remaining family. As often happens, things seem to deteriorate once their mother is gone and the family home becomes a major point of contention, especially when Andy changes plans and decides to move into the home instead of selling it.

 Through narration, we find out bits of the sister’s lives and what it’s like being in this burg of a town. The hopes are to sell the house and finally get out, to live a real life. This town is a trap and nobody ever leaves. Always the same, always depressing. Andy, after having moved away wants to come back, essentially throwing a monkey wrench into his sibling’s life plans. Everyone knows that family can be tough, you don’t get to pick who you are related to or grow up around. Like Animals explores these things within a hard hitting film under fifteen minutes. This is one of those stories almost anyone can relate with on some level and it’s all pieced together so well, that the word “independent” barely crossed my mind.

   In the film, Mary seems to be the most memorable and focused on. We see and meet all the sisters, but Mary’s character expressed all their concerns the most loudly. She’s the voice of the family, for better or worse. She and her other two sisters have a problem with him being the executor and his decisions. Makes total sense considering he no longer even lives there. The decision was made to sell the home so everyone could get away, Andy’s change of heart has not only impacted the sisters mentally… but somewhat financially as well.  But all the power in this film doesn’t come from his decision, it comes from the explorations of the modern family dynamic. The vast differences between siblings, as is expressed most obviously between Mary and Irene, who actually seemed like she didn’t really care one way or the other. The sisters and Andy all act the parts out very realistically and believably and even the character of Nate is done well, although his character comes across as very overbearing. His love of pet names would drive me crazy as well and if any real impression was given, it would be that Nate was manipulating Andy to get what he wanted. It would have been cool for some exploration of Andy and Nate’s relationship were thrown into the mix. Being such a short film though, concessions had to be made.

  The production values of Like Animals doesn’t disappoint and the story and direction are all in the same vein. This is a very reality driven story and like real life, things don’t always get resolved at the end. We do get some closure by way the eventual acceptance of how things are, and the promise that eventually, things will work out. Like Animals is a very real, dramatic short film. One that I feel very lucky to have had the chance to write about. Thank you for reading and be sure to check out the trailer below.

Like Animals – Trailer from Leland Montgomery on Vimeo.

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