Take a Hike is a short comedy film with heart. Writer/director Mark Blitch's story isn't revolutionary. It's not intended to be, either. The goal is exploring the relationship between a young man and his girlfriend's father with a little humor and lot of character. Mark Blitch teams up again with actors Taylor Brandt and Todd Terry. They previously worked together on The Code (full post), a horror/comedy about the bylaws of monster attacks. Here, the focus is on the actors, not the concept, and Brandt and Terry give believable performances.
Take a Hike slowly reveals the layers of tension between the two men. Adam (Brandt) invites David (Terry) out on a hike to bond. David makes it clear that he does not like Adam and does not want him to be with his daughter. After getting lost, a snake attack forces the two to rely on each other as they argue for and against the relationship.
Though only eleven minutes long, Take a Hike never feels rushed. We get to learn a lot about these two characters in a short amount of time. Even more impressive is the balance between the relationship. Blitch refuses to allow either character to fully control the audience's reaction to the story. I felt more connected to Adam, but that doesn't mean that I disliked David.
What we have here is a short film that met all of the goals it defined from the start. The camera work is appropriate even when it indulges in lens flair and scene-setting time lapse photography. The editing is clean and establishes a nice, easy rhythm. Joey Williams' music doesn't distract from the story and Cameron Ernst's original song at the end complements the conclusion nicely.
Here's where Take a Hike really gets interesting. Something this polished came out of a time constraint festival. The 168 Hour Film Project challenges filmmakers to write, shoot, and edit an 11 minute short film in one week based on an assigned theme and Bible verse. The goal is to create a film that deals with the required subject in a subtle way.
If I didn't know about the festival, I wouldn't have known that Mark Blitch and his crew had any restrictions to deal with. It's a credit to the writing that a story like this didn't just become a mouthpiece for proselytizing. Take a Hike is simply a well-executed short film that wouldn't be out of place in most festivals.
Special thanks to Taylor Brandt for contacting me about this short. You can find out more about Take a Hike on Facebook.
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