Kaya Tone proves herself to be a capable director with a clear vision in her short film The Call of Water (2021), giving audiences a well-developed story for having a runtime just under 20-minutes. The Call of Water is a condensed coming of age story following Nadia, played by Trinity Simpson, as she tries to accept and understand her responsibilities to not only her immediate family, but to her ancestors as well. Spending the night in her childhood home before it is sold, Nadia finds herself stuck in the astral-plane face to face with an ancient keeper of the land and water, The Horned One. Nadia must face her fears and deal with her responsibilities rather than run away from them in order to return to her body. Set in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and starring the young talent of Trinity Simpson, Emily Bollman, Sawyer Wright, Eric Palmer, Haiden Davis, Rebecca Hamner, and Tamara Jakos, The Call of Water is a unique fantasy with a familiar lesson dealing with themes of family, nature, and responsibility.
The establishing shots of the film are all picturesque and provide a nice contrast for the initial dialogue. The script does begin a bit overly dramatic, with quick switches in emotion between the two main sisters during their initial fight, while setting up the main conflict of the narrative. Although the beginning feels a bit rushed for context’s sake, the next scene does a much better job of slowly introducing the other characters and their relationships to Nadia, along with some more personality and easy-going conversation to give the story a setting and time. Most of the cliche dialogue is mostly due to the fault of how difficult it is to make a conversation between a group of teenagers realistic and universal for audiences than it is due to poor writing. Throughout the film, Nadia voices some of her realities and thoughts that she has been too afraid to admit. Certain details that are revealed throughout the film give more context to the central issue while also raising more questions for the audience, a good way to make us want to learn more about a character. This part of the film is definitely the strongest, showcasing the most authentic dialogue and acting.
Technically, the production value of this film looks very professional and would compare well against other short films or features. The film uses music to begin the main action and introduce the fantastical elements of the film. The music’s simple and classic violin beginning transforms into a psychedelic remix of music that pairs perfectly with the action happening onscreen and helps guide the audience through how Nadia is feeling. Visually, the film is crisp and bright. The lighting is well done and feels natural, even in the darker scenes. The cinematography is varied enough to show off the technical skills and vision of the director of photography, Alex Wohlin, without pulling focus from the narrative in a negative way. The framing of the shots as well as the editing are traditional for the most part, which again helps keep the focus on some of the other visual aspects such as the props and costumes, both of which are detailed and well done. The effects are engaging and successful, especially for a smaller scaled production, and to a general audience are indistinguishable from visual or practical effects, or possibly a mixture of both.
This film is best suited to a teenage or young adult audience given the ages of the characters and some of the more mature content, but the message that Nadia learns as well as the engaging visuals of the film can resonate with and engage anyone.
The Call of Water screens at the Spring 2022 New Jersey Film Festival on January 30 as part of the Short Film Program! To buy tickets to see it click here.
The New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2022 will be taking place on select Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays between January 28 and February 20, 2022. As a result of COVID our Festival will be a virtual one again this Spring. All the films will be available virtually via Video on Demand for 24 hours on their show date.
More info is available here: https://newjerseyfilmfestivalspring2022.eventive.org/welcome