Year Released: 2004
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 23 minutes
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“The 17th Man” is a fantastic short film that mesmerizes with intense color, art, beauty, and flawless direction. Yimeng Jin’s film is a sordid tale of madness, obsession, and revenge that borders on a psychological thriller, with all the important elements of a murder mystery. A Hitchcockian, Raymond Chandler-esque, film noir style mixes with an eclectic and deeply unnerving talent to produce one of the best short films I’ve ever seen.
Anita Watson is a character created by one very disturbed writer named Steven Alexander. She uses her sex appeal to seduce and ultimately kill men who are blinded by her beauty and charisma. So far she has killed 16 times. She is waiting for her 17th man. Steven Alexander writes his novels with a ferocity that allows Anita to become real for him. She haunts him. She controls him. That’s why he decides that The 17th Man will be her last novel. Despite earnest protests from his editor, Steven sits down to his typewriter to bang out the last chapter in Anita Watson’s life. There is only one problem: Anita isn’t going to be destroyed that easily. In an eerie battle of wit and will, Steven struggles to grapple with what sometimes appears to be a ghostly apparition, and at other times appears to be some sever psychological problems. Even deeper than the need to discern Steven’s mental health, the story leads you down an interesting interpretation: Is it the writer who creates the story, or is it the readers who make sit real. And if it is the reader, then is Steven completely unable to change or defeat the creature of Anita Watson? Or will he become her 17th man?
A femme fatale in full glory, Jeanine Holley Meis Scott Openshaw is catlike and seductive while still managing to scare all the men who watch this film. Scott Openshaw shows the range of a great actor and his good looks (yes, quite good) do not overshadow his talent (which is also quite good). He depicts Steven Alexander with such grueling dedication and demented passion that he is a perfect counterpart to Jeanine’s confidant and calmly evil Anita.
The beautiful mix of horror and seedy trashy detective story are brought to life by vivid comic book colors, great sound effects, and a very stylized and professional directing technique by Yimeng Jin. Despite the fantastical storyline and the twists and turns, the script is crisp and the characters well developed. This one is a winner.
Posted on June 19, 2004 in Reviews by Heidi Martinuzzi
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