Back Home Late
A woman returns home late at night – everything is completely quiet in the well-lit hallways of the apartment complex where she apparently resides. As she makes her way through the seemingly never-ending labyrinth of corridors, stairs, and doorways, she gets startled by a sudden noise. She then spots a tall man dressed in dark clothes, who is apparently following her. She has to run away from him – or does she?
‘Back Home Late’ tries out the look and feel of a first-person video game, much like titles such as the Amnesia games, where the protagonist has to get through areas patrolled by strange entities who pursue him in case he gets spotted. While the short film does seem to adhere to these principles, at least to a point, it also leaves some small hints of uncertainty. First of all, the woman does not seem to have a definite goal – reaching the safety of her apartment and locking her door immediately after she enters. Second, her movement patterns, including much back and forth, might suggest a different objective in mind. We were afraid that these questions would not be answered, but they were – the plot twist is quite interesting and offers a smart change of perspective.
The entire project is very dynamic. It starts slow and tense as the main protagonist slowly paces through the corridors, her rhythmical footsteps and labored breath the only two sounds breaking the complete silence. Then, the pursuit scenes are continuously accompanied by a loud and fast-paced almost arcade-like soundtrack that obscures most other noises and considerably speeds up the flow of the scenes in the process. It also suggests a shift of direction in the genre of the film, as it becomes readily apparent that it is no nerve-wracking horror where every tiny sudden noise can spell danger. However, it reverts to being a tense affair, at least temporarily, until the focus shifts again. We wouldn’t necessarily call it unpredictable, but it does leave the audience guessing until the very end.
All-around writer, producer, director, and main actor Alessandra Guarino applies her idea in a unique manner and breaks expectations a number of times. While a second viewing might not bring about any new perspectives and might not always warrant the most harmonious match of elements, the roughly 10-minute runtime does not leave any great opportunity for boredom to instill.
Yes, it might seem a bit stretched and repetitive midway through, and yes, a number of scenes could have been better constructed and framed, but it is ultimately the overall picture that counts, and with respect to this, ‘Back Home Late’ is a largely enjoyable project that should entertain its audiences for a brief time. And it might pop in their minds when they do end up going late back home and having to cross endless apartment complex corridors to get to their room.