What Jack Built is an action-drama short film from August 2015. It is written and directed by Matthew Mahler and is an
What Jack BuiltWhat does he build?
What Jack built
What Jack Built is an action-drama short film from August 2015. It is written and directed by Matthew Mahler and is an 8mm Films production. The film is an approximate 12 minutes long and stars only one actor. In the line of one-man starring movies, from Castaway to Locke, it has now become an accepted norm in Hollywood to produce this kind of cinema. If indeed, they manage to cast a matured actor who is able to singularly pull the weight of the production. What Jack Built is an example of the same. Why do we say so? Read on.
First, let’s meet the actor:
Timothy J Cox as Jack
What Jack Built follows a man tinkering away with tools in his garage hurriedly. He chisels wood and screws on the nuts and bolts to his odd looking contraption. One can only guess what he is upto. It seems to be a trap for an animal, or maybe even a small enclosure for the man himself. The protagonist lights cigarette after cigarette, doused in his work. He hammers away at the contraption with a notorious energy and then tries to test it for efficiency. But what is it that Jack has built?
The movie is a very intelligent one. It utilizes human curiosity to keep us hooked till the end. The film is fast paced, with Jack working unrealistically fast at his construction. The background score also accelerates the twelve minute long film to seem maybe five or six minutes in totality. Till the very end, we will remain very unsure of what the contraption is intended for, and whether the man was successful in his efforts.
Timothy J Cox manages to keep us hooked with his nuanced performance. Even though the pace of the film does not allow subtleties of emotion, he manages to give his character some shape, without uttering a single dialogue and within twelve mere minutes. He skillfully matches the tone of the film with his expressions and creates a curious character who is just as mysterious as the contraption that he has set out to build. One-man films are the test of an actors proficiency, and Mr. Cox has executed this with finesse.
The director allows us to be carried on this wild ride. It is a simple storyline and yet does not seem uncomplicated. There are moments when the contraption is tested, moments when the protagonists seems as if he is faltering. The film is directed to keep us watching till the end. The director also manages to create a sense of compelling urgency, with the combination of the soundtrack and the accelerated cinematography. The urgency is in line with the undertone of the film, an undertone of impending danger.
The one qualm we have with What Jack Built is the fact that we had to once again witness a single-starrer in the man v/s wild format. It might have been more interesting if the director and writer decided to break the mold and experiment with a premise other than wilderness or a dystopian future.
That said, the film is intriguing and entertaining to watch. Timothy J Cox’s performance is stellar and the background score is fascinating. We give it 3/5.
Here’s a link to the film: