Growing up is about a lot of things, and sometimes one of them is proving to your parents that you can handle your own shit, even in the most dire of situations. And what could be more dire than potentially getting stranded all alone on an alien planet? That’s the concept behind the recent short film Prospect, from directors Zeek Earl and Chris Caldwell, which lends a mysterious vibe to a simple but well-told story. It’s kind of like three chapters out of the Nancy Drew version of Dune.
Shep Films’ first teased this short a few months back, and we’ve been looking forward to it ever since. Honestly, I was expecting something more kinetic and overplayed, as most sci-fi shorts follow the “What’s the biggest idea I can fit into this thing?” line of thinking. But Prospect is completely different and doesn’t really fit easily into any labeling.
Tony Doupe plays the protective (and nameless) father of Callie Harlow’s also nameless daughter, and the two are interested in collecting a precious resource indigenous to another planet whose atmosphere is toxic to humans. The father is careful to lay out a strict set of rules for her to follow, as this appears to be her first time accompanying him. Thankfully, she’s learned and not just an asshat teenager who only wants to get away from her dad so she doesn’t look like a total dork in front of all those trees and random bandits.
It is indeed one of those bandits who complicates the trip, as he space-mugs the father, shooting him and leaving him for dead while she freaks out behind a tree. But instead of panicking, she patches him up and saves his life in a way that relies heavily on instinct and clear-headedness. It’s here when Quentin Tarentino’s brand of storytelling sets in as the daughter grabs a weapon and sets out to avenge her father’s death, which she does with just four bullets. I quite liked that part, and space helmets off to Harlow for being able to play so much of this quiet role with just her eyes. It’s precisely what sells that pisser of a final moment, as she watches her father’s ship sail away in the hands of someone else. At least I think that’s what happened.
Sure Caldwell’s script isn’t exactly weighed down with huge monologues or set pieces, but it doesn’t need to be, as Earl’s fantastic cinematography really showcases Prospect‘s setting, yet still manages to feel slightly claustrophobic, which I liked. Check out more about the Kickstarter-funded short on the Shep Films Facebook page, and feast your eyes on the excellent official poster below.