Next of Kin By Marissa Vonn – Short Film Review

Next of Kin is a beautiful, sincere and cinematically-magnificent; story following a young woman that writes the obituaries in her small town.

Next of Kin By Marissa Vonn

Marissa Vonn does an amazingly effective job of telling this story in all the best, most engaging ways. The opening scene shows our main character writing up obituaries in a quiet newspaper office, establishing the setting and tone immensely effectively and concisely. Within the monotonous environment, she is suddenly upset by one of the obituaries that she comes across. 

Next of Kin By Marissa Vonn

The story is very well written and absolutely beautifully directed, with very thorough, well-developed dialogue between the two characters who play their contrasting roles particularly well. We have the quiet woman paired with the upbeat, chatty man, who appears to enjoy a good joke. Visually, we can see and feel their differences too. While she wears a blouse covered up with a thick wool cardigan, he wears a brightly colored, wrinkled shirt. We can see the difference in their body language. While he is more open and relaxed, she is very closed off and limits her eye contact with him.  With only these 2 characters, the film does a good job of telling the story mainly through woman’s reactions and how she interacts with the man and to her specific elements of the work she does. The relationship is the classic example of a working relationship. It is very clear that while the characters get along very well, their interactions are limited to work and any work functions that happen – such as a trivia night. They do not discuss their personal lives with one another, and this adds to the idea that this woman has no personal life or family of any kind, by her own desire. Again, something we can read into as the viewer, but Marissa Vonn does not unnecessarily force it onto us. It’s the subtlety that is so impressive. 

The ambient background music helps to set the scene of the woman living a quiet life, along with the limited, very clean lighting used in most scenes. This helps the audience to understand that the woman probably wants to go through life pretty much unnoticed, and the tension grows when we see that this could be taken away from her. We also have a very immersive, wonderful use of background noise. The clicking of the typewriter in the opening scene helps to set the scene of the repetitive, everyday life that Helena lives. We see this again with the sound of the rain hitting off her camper van. 

Next of Kin By Marissa Vonn

The camera work is another stunning element of the work, often with a close focus on the woman’s face and steady reactions. As she does a great deal of her acting without words, this helps us clearly see when she is distressed, and panning out to her co-worker shows us the comparison between them. The surrounding minimalism in the scenes work well too – adding to that feel of someone who is hiding and does not want to be found. 

Overall, this film flows very, very well, moving from one day to the next smoothly with a nice gradual build up to a wonderfully-executed reveal at the end. The use of limited characters and setting keeps the focus mainly on the story with limited distractions. Marissa Vonn takes her time with the story, with the characters and with everything else, yet is still able to completely nail the pacing on this film. Overall, Next of Kin was a beautiful short film that properly utilizes every moment of screen time it has to offer. 

We very much look forward to seeing where Marissa Vonn goes next!



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