'Sheut' is a deeply symbolic short film that tells an interesting story about the past and our hidden fears. With great camera work and photography, director Teo Belton manages to showcase the isolation and struggle his protagonist faces in his quest to make sense of his memories.
While having a disturbing nightmare in which his mother seems to deny his existence, Luis wakes up in a cold sweat on the cargo ship he works on. This burst of reality is one of the very few throughout the movie, as most of the other scenes are a confusing mix between flashbacks, dream sequences and imagined conversations. Not to say that’s a bad thing, it helps the mystery and symbolism going, but the viewer could have a hard time distinguishing between them and it might impede him to better understand the plot.
The scene with the baby on the water is reminiscent of the legend of Moses, who was found on a body of water and raised by foster parents. That might go towards explaining why Luis’ mother is so cold and malicious with him when she tells him “I have no children”. The audience is never given a reason for her mean-spirited attitude which could be the cause of the protagonist’s panic and his anxiety dreams. He seems to be coming from a broken home because it is mentioned that his father left “a long time ago”.
To get to the main point of the movie, we must talk about 'Sheut' or the shadow. In the introduction, it is presented as being evil and bad, but the public is never shown an example of any malfeasance. He just seems to linger in the background or behind people, just like a regular shadow would. His existence is barely acknowledged by the characters and he seems to have no bearing on the actual action of the film. Moreover, in the scene at the end, it looks like Luis makes his peace with his shadow as they both smile and their personas overlap.
The actors’ performances are masterful and believable, their interactions are genuine, even if they argue or do not rely on too much dialogue to further the story along. The visuals do a great job of showcasing the loneliness and misery of the human condition.
All in all, 'Sheut' is a great piece of film with lots of interesting elements that manage to take the viewer’s attention hostage, in the best way possible. Nevertheless, it is in need of some polishing if it wants to be more accessible to the general public.