Sunday Punch is a 35mm short film – approximately 18 minutes in length – from Dennis Huack. The film stars Dichen Lachman (Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse), Samm Levine (Inglorious Basterds, Freaks and Geeks) and David Yow (lead singer of The Jesus Lizard and Scratch Acid). I’m not familiar with Huack, the writer/director, since his previous work consists entirely of short films, which typically don’t hit the mass market. The filmmakers resorted to Kickstarter to complete funding for the film due to some costly music licenses. I’ve been fortunate enough to obtain a DVD copy of the film and thought I would share my view on it.
Sunday Punch starts out with a credit sequence set to the music of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds song “Do You Love Me?”* The sequence evokes a stylized noir vibe that helps set the tone of the film. The film then cuts right into a conversation between Jill (Lachman) and Arthur (Yow) who appear to be on a date at a bar after having met through an online dating service. The two look completely mismatched; Jill is an incredibly beautiful woman far out of Arthur’s league while Arthur is an older man that won’t be wowing any women with his looks. However, as you find out through the short, Jill is tired of the men she’s used to and looks to have agreed to go on a date with Arthur in the off chance that he might be a little different – a nice guy. Jill isn’t the kind of girl with dreams of puppy dog love; she’s a bit of a cynic with just a hint of buried optimism. She commands the date and it’s obvious she doesn’t take shit from anyone.
While at the bar with Arthur, Jill is approached by her boss (Levine), a gangster that has her under his thumb. He wants Jill to slip a mickey into a boxer’s water bottle to make him lose a fight. She resists at first but seeing no choice if she wants to live, she agrees to do it. This sets up the rest of the short to show Jill’s response to being forced to do something she doesn’t want to do and to her underlying need for love.
What’s immediately noticeable from the get go is how well Dichen Lachman portrays Jill. Lachman confidently delivers her lines with a smart tongue and brimming sexuality. She’s equally believable and sexy. She commands the screen and demonstrates her ability to play a femme fatale with ease. The short is pretty well written but Lachman definitely lends a great sense of credibility to the proceedings. Samm Levine and David Yow both deliver good performances and play off of Lachman pretty well. Often times, low budget films, whether they be short or not, can falter due to the acting, lessening the impact of the script, but the director did a good job in casting actors with talent.
Dennis Huack definitely made a beautiful looking film. The short is full of really well lit scenes with vibrant colors and great contrast. The set design and location they used works really well for the film. I never questioned the film’s budget while watching; I accepted what was on screen and didn’t recognize any low budget seams. In my opinion, this is a pretty big compliment. The production value seems much higher than I’m sure they were able to afford but they made use of what they had to great effect.
I actually really enjoyed Sunday Punch and am very happy to have had the chance to see the film. Hopefully more people will have a chance to see it soon as it is a good short film and really shows a different side to Dichen Lachman than what we have previously seen, for example, in Dollhouse. She’s easily my favorite part of Sunday Punch and I really hope the best for her as she continues her career. I’d also be interested in seeing some more things from Dennis Hauck as he demonstrates a good sense of style and can write good dialogue. If you have the chance to see Sunday Punch, I definitely recommend checking it out.
Below is the teaser trailer for Sunday Punch as well as another promo pic and the poster.
*after hearing a bit of the song in the film, I went and purchased it on iTunes. It’s a damn cool song.