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SUNDANCE REVIEW — “Light From Light”

Surprisingly no Hot Pockets appear in the film

Light From Light is written and directed by Paul Harrill and stars Marin Ireland, Jim Gaffigan, Josh Wiggins, and Atheena Frizzell. It tells the story of Sheila, a single mom, and part-time paranormal investigator who is asked to look into a possible “haunting” at a widower’s farmhouse in East Tennessee. Often times films regarding the supernatural get caught up in lore and the logic of the universe they exist in, that they forget the characters in that universe. Nothing could be farther from the case here. Light From Light is not a ghost story, rather a story of people who happen to exist within a ghost story. It’s a quite and simple film that succeeds in its modest ambitions, even if they’re a bit underwhelming

Paul Harrill is directing here and he does a fine job. He incredibly held back with his direction and his screenplay is almost bare bones. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Harrill’s intentions are humble and every idea and theme he sets up is fully developed and fleshed out here, there’s just not much he develops. This film is a crisp 80 minutes and Harrill does not waste even a second. Every aspect of the film is working towards Harrill’s vision and while that vision may not be too ambitious or out of reach, he accomplishes what he sets out to do. The film doesn’t reach any particularly remarkable highs, but it’s not really trying too. Harrill does a great telling the story he trying to tell, even if that’s all he does.

The cast is equally as restrained as it’s a director and each actor delivers a fully developed and nuanced performance. Marin Ireland does a great job as our protagonist and Jim Gaffigan knocks it out of the park. He is so vulnerable here and it’s something I would have never expected from him. While this isn’t the dramatic turn of the century, it certainly proves Gaffigan as a capable dramatic actor. Josh Wiggins does a good job here, he’s just not given much to do. I found his character’s writing a bit inconsistent, but he does a good job with the material regardless. Although Gaffigan’s performance is really the only one to really impress me, the entire cast does a very good job.

On a technical level, Light From Light is as simple as you’d expect. The score and cinematography are very straightforward, but still well done. The sound design was particularly well done and build quite a bit of atmosphere in the film. Light From Light is a difficult film to review, as there’s not much to say about it. It does everything well, but nothing remarkably well. It’s not amazing, but it’s not by any means bad. It’s a very blunt film. It has a very simple story, a very simple approach, and it does them with no regret. While I wasn’t necessarily blown away or impressed by it, I don’t really have any problems with it.

In short, Light From Light is a very brief, but well-done film, much like this review. 3/5

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