Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Puzzle (2008)

Succeeding in creating a good five minute film takes a creative filmmaking prowess. The premise and everything the viewer needs to know has to be made clear from the start, without any kind of drawn-out setup. Also, because every second is a significant fraction of the runtime, every second must count. With THE PUZZLE, Italian filmmaker Davide Melini makes a basic idea interesting and creates a disturbing and fascinating movie with very little run time.   

The film’s pre-credit sequence is spooky and well done; making use of creepy chants and whispers, in the vein of SUSPIRIA, before a ringing phone sets the stage for the lead character’s evening.
A mother (Cachito Noguera) quickly becomes disgruntled after receiving a call from her son (Alessandro Fornari) asking for money. Apparently she finds her son’s reasons disagreeable and highly unsettling, and so, after hanging up, she attempts to remedy her frustrations by sitting down to piece together a jigsaw puzzle that ends up holding an unpleasant surprise.
The only spoken dialogue in the film is at the beginning, with the events unfolding in a dialogue-free fashion with visuals, sounds, and SILENT HILL-esque music driving the narrative. The piano-laden montages are the most enjoyable parts for me, which are complete with rotating camera shots and brief moments of black and white. These scenes succeed in making the inclusion of piecing together this puzzle a bit more profound. It immediately starts to answer the question: How interesting can it be to watch someone put together a puzzle? 


The culmination of the film is the completed puzzle, which is a mirror image and a prediction to a harsh outcome of the evening, and I recall feeling a few chills after seeing the final completed image for the first time. The more attentive viewer may notice that the lead character never has a chance to finish the entire puzzle, herself. The lights go out and she later discovers that the puzzle has sort of completed itself; doubling as a supernatural occurrence and a figurative depiction of her relation to her son.

A talent I sense from Melini is that he can take something that we’ve seen a thousand times before, like the power in the house being cutoff and execute it in a way that causes it to still work; putting a fresh spin on what would’ve otherwise been an all too familiar feeling. 

THE PUZZLE is a short and enjoyable experience and could easily make for a good pre-show introduction or warm-up. The reader should consider including THE PUZZLE as a sort of pre-viewing experience to whatever it is he or she may be watching tonight. It’s a cool mood setter and the video length is just under 5 minutes. I also couldn’t help thinking that it could make a nice show opener in a theater setting.

THE PUZZLE (2008): Full video (I recommend using headphones with the volume up)  


  1. I really liked this, especially since i have a particular interest for short films. You were right about the 'lights going out' part. Nice stuff.

    1. Welcome. I’m glad you liked it. It was my first time writing about a short film, and it was an interesting experience. It was pretty inspirational from a writing standpoint, in that I could just watch it over again to get a new idea anytime I experienced writer’s block.

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