THE HOBBYIST **** USA 2016 Dir: George Vatistas. 9 mins
American short story writer Fredric Brown has enjoyed deserved accolades over the decades from creative giants as varied as Philip K Dick, Guillermo Del Toro and Stephen King, and his 1961 story “The Hobbyist” has now been adapted by writer-director George Vatistas. Daniel Mitura shows up at the old-fashioned store of druggist Robert W Smith, chasing a rumour that the pipe-smoking, white-bearded elderly gent stocks a completely undetectable poison. One that he plans to use to murder his wife.
Smith confirms that he will not charge if he feels the “case is deserving” but needs to be convinced that Mitura deserves what he can offer. Vatistas’ droll, tidy short is nicely shot, with an elegant score by Rob Eletto and a lovely punchline. It showcases a particularly charming performance by Smith, effortlessly bringing an underlying menace to this delightful fellow. When the film is over you get the sense that there are many more fascinating stories to be told about this druggist, his life and his store – conceivably in the form of some kind of Amicus-style anthology.
Review by Steven West