A Simple But Effective Short Movie
In the last year or so, the world has been turned upside down. Lockdown has been the new norm, theatres and cinema chains balance precariously on a knife-edge while the travel industry has been upended over night. Through all this doom and gloom though, there are positives to be had. Short movies like Terminus are a perfect example of this; a 13-minute film that proves that you don’t need a massive budget to make a movie. You just need a bit of creativity and some decent camera work – both things this short film has in abundance.
In its simplest form, Terminus is a movie about a young married couple who have grown apart. Their conversations are on different wave lengths, thin cracks of resentment have grown into deep chasms and this has all lead to an inevitable break-up. There’s no shouting or crazy fights though – this film occurs after all that. What’s left is a quiet, poignant reflection on what could have been.
The couple in question are Shawny and Sam. While we’re not told the exact reason they’ve broken up, there are some clues along the way to hint at Sam keeping secrets from Shawny. The reasoning doesn’t really matter but the film is likely to resonate with anyone whose been through a break-up like this.
More recently Malcolm & Maria released on Netflix, delivering a firework display of fighting and perfected back-and-forth verbal sparring. Despite how stylish and well-acted that movie was, a niggling feeling of it playing out like a stage production remained. Here though, Terminus never feels staged. There’s something quite raw with this film that really leans into the idea of regret and quiet reflection, carefully trying to piece together where everything started to go wrong in a doomed relationship.
What’s particularly impressive with this short though lies in what’s going on behind the scenes. There’s been some prolific movies over the years shot on a thin budget, including the Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, but Terminus takes the crown by operating with a zero budget, according to Director Tim Seyfert.
Using only what was available and filmed across a 2 day period in the middle of the COVID pandemic, Terminus manages to do a really good job with the limited resources available. For that alone the movie is worth watching, especially those interested to see how good scene composition can make or break a picture.
There’s a couple of scenes here in particular that stand out, sandwiched between the bulk of drama in the middle of this film. The opening shot depicts Shawny and Sam at the table together, eating. A dividing line from the patio door separates them while a clock sits ominously on the shelf. Later on, when one of our characters returns to eat, that clock is missing. Whether deliberate or not, it’s a clever visual cue that shows that time has essentially run out for this couple.
Those looking for an action-packed or explosive film won’t really find that here. Instead, Terminus plays out like a showcase on what can be achieved with a very thin budget and some creative thinking. It won’t be for everyone but it’s certainly an artistic picture worth checking out.