RHYME OR DIE *** UK 2021 Dir: Max Lincoln. 10 mins
Small films like short stories are the hardest to write and review they must be complete in scope much like the literature format ‘shotgun fiction’ designed to be read while waiting for public transport. Writer Alex Moran and Director Max Lincoln take to the concept of a ‘rap contest’ and combine it with the Saw franchise to a deadlier conclusion with Rhyme Or Die (2021). Five strangers of diverse backgrounds are kidnapped only to wake up with ‘Thrall‘ like metal collars (From the Classic Star Trek episode The Gamesters of Triskelion). The five are told to rhyme to the musical beats of their female captor Dynamo (Bethan Cullinane). What follows is a battle of wills and verbal dexterity punctuated by the shrill voice of Dynamo and pulsating music. Those that fail in the rhyme within a time limit are killed in various gory ways from their attached collars by Dynamo who simply and gleefully pushes a button.
Rhyme Or Die (2021) is well-paced with strong images, particularly with the excellent opening that brings you into the world of dark and a potential for death. All the actors as you must be in a short film are sincere and try to project a different personality in very limited screen time, perhaps a few seconds in closeup before long master shots to two shots. Colin (Victor Alli), Nidal (Mohammad Amiri), Harry (Samuel Blenkin), Kaye (Racheal Ofori) and Eve (Olumide Olorunfemi) all try to live but only the few survive. Decapitations, throats being slit and heads exploding all in just over ten minutes. The end comes when a choice is made between family and life is hard but logical for the characters concerned. Surviving also gives way to bewilderment.
If you can get by the shrillness of the voice of Dynamo as the captor and some of her repetitive phrases you can catch some of the clever wordplay of the actors. The film doesn’t explain how they got into this situation or who Dynamo is which it couldn’t do in the time allowed. Rhyme Or Die (2021) did win the “Best Screenplay Short” at Manchester Film Festival, 2023 (UK) and was nominated for “Best Horror” Performance Short Film Competition, 2022 (UK). This parable of diction, betrayal and thinking on your feet under threat is making the rounds on the film festival circuit. Oh yes, there will be words.
Review by Terry Sherwood
Rhyme Or Die is scheduled to be released on SHORT OF THE WEEK in October 2023 & WATCH ALTER in January 2024
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