Short Film Review: DAYBREAK

2014 SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS SELECTION!
Unrated
10 minutes

**

One hallmark of aging is a shift in generational empathy in media. For instance, even if you grew up watching “My So-Called Life,” you may now find yourself siding with Angela Chase’s parents upon repeat viewings. It’s not so much that we forget what it was like to be young as it is that we now have more information and life experience.

The simple fact is that when you’re a kid, you don’t know anything, but you think you know everything. Sometimes, you can watch a story about youth with nostalgia, putting yourself back in their shoes as they try to figure out what kind of person they want to be. But occasionally, the characters are so bewildering and Id-driven that the only thing you get out of the story is a sense of frustration.

The pre-adolescent kids in “Daybreak” are a frustrating lot. They tool around their suburban Montreal neighborhood, literally looking for trouble. There is a quiet boy in their midst who is also the recipient of quite a lot of ridicule over the time he spends with one of the girls. He seems the nicest of the bunch, but he still voluntarily hangs out with the “recreational strangulation” sort.

Eventually, the kids knock on the door of a house. A scruffy metal kid answers. He wordlessly beckons them in and sets the soundtrack for mayhem (Pantera). All of a sudden, all the children are Fucking. Shit. Up. They’re smashing things, scribbling on the walls, moshing and being generally naughty.

Meanwhile, the quiet boy and the girl he likes wander off to explore the house. They’re not directly participating in the destruction, but they don’t seem too concerned by it either. This chaos will continue to reign until an authority figure arrives to break it up. Who knows what the consequences will be. What would you do if you came home to a child riot? Kids can be real assholes. “Daybreak” seems to suggest that being a shit is an essential rite of passage. That may be true, but I take no joy in it.

I can’t say I enjoyed this short much either. But narrative aside, it’s a nice looking film, particularly during the bike ride scene, which is dream-like and bathed in warm, summery colors. I’d be interested in seeing what else director Ian Lagarde may have up his sleeve, but the climax of “Daybreak” was just painful to watch because I kept thinking about those poor parents and the awful day they were about to have. Perspective can be a bitch.

Originally published on FilmThreat.com (now defunct).

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