Short Film Review: “Roach” – Vicious, Viscous, Visceral

Written by Jesse Gelinas November 26, 2013

Roach, Freight Busses, Kevin Tuck

I never… learned… to speak.

I’m rather fond of short films. Complete, contained stories wrapped in little packages for easy consumption. They’re fun, and they can help a young filmmaker hone their talents for later works, or an experienced filmmaker express themselves differently. Outside Hollywood or British cinema, it’s rare that I’ll see a short that garners a strong reaction from me. This, however, is the case with “Roach”, a short sci-fi thriller written and directed by Kevin Tuck. Having watched the film multiple times now, I have to say, it laid a pretty deep impression on me.

“Roach” takes place in a dark and dingy future, not unlike ones we’ve seen many times before. Everything is drab and covered in neon lights, and everyone lives in an apartment that has a really bad leak that’s always leaking because it’s always raining even when it’s sunny… which is never. We watch a nameless man drifting aimlessly through space from colony to colony. Once there, he executes his gruesome, murderous obsession with collecting people’s “data”, which he takes into himself, filling himself with the experience of multiple lives.

Roach, Kevin Tuck

Time leaps when I let my mind wander.

The film has a very distinct look it’s obviously going for. It is rather pretty to look at, stylish and gritty. It’s not an overly original visual style, but it fits well with the tone of the short, and helps deliver the surreal atmosphere the director wants. The colours are vivid and vibrant, and everything else is black and bottomless. The visual effects are nothing to be blown away by, but functional and impressive nonetheless given the film’s shoestring budget. The music is sparse and ambient as it should be, and adds to the surreal quality mentioned before. All in all, the film’s production is its greatest accomplishment. It looks like it could have come out of any Hollywood studio or filmmaker’s catalog.

Where the film suffers is in its performances. Now, Oscar worthy acting is not meant to be the draw of any amateur film production, so it’s not exactly a detractor. Much of the cast is only on screen for a minute before being killed off by The Drifter. The Drifter himself (Mark Nocent) has a certain unsettling quality in the way he carries himself, and I didn’t find it hard to believe him as a serial killing data thief, oddly enough. His voice does get a little grating though, particularly when he’s repeating phrases over and over again. Now, in all fairness, he does claim not to have been properly taught to speak, so I guess we have to go easy on him.

Roach, Kevin Tuck

Is your mind a colony?

I said “Roach” got a reaction out of me, and it did. I found myself in a constant state of unease as I watched, and I think that’s what the filmmakers wanted. Or at least, I hope so. You should find yourself uncomfortable when faced with the gruesome murders of innocents, in a dark and scary world, by a dark and scary man. Otherwise, there’s probably something wrong with you.

All in all, it’s a strong, impressively produced film (especially for a reported budget of only $300). It’s an interesting story with a relatively original concept and if nothing else, it will hold your interest for its 27-minute run time. Watch it if you’re a fan of short films, a fan of sci-fi, or more so, just a fan of movies. Films like “Roach” are many times a sign of even better things to come, and it’s not a bad idea to tag along now before things really pick up.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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