REVIEW – 503 DIRECTED BY francis han

Written and directed by Francis Han, ‘503’ is a horror short film that stars Patrick Burkard, George Ross Bridgman and Numa Khandwani. 503 finds its protagonist, apartment manager Sam, living his life in excess. When he is not haranguing tenants about rental increases and fines, Sam finds pleasure in taking advantage of poor old men selling video games. Scoring a copy of a unique game during one such instance, Sam finds the game gradually taking over his life.

Written and directed by Francis Han, ‘503’ is a horror short film that stars Patrick Burkard, George Ross Bridgman and Numa Khandwani.

503 finds its protagonist, apartment manager Sam, living his life in excess. When he is not haranguing tenants about rental increases and fines, Sam finds pleasure in taking advantage of poor old men selling video games. Scoring a copy of a unique game during one such instance, Sam finds the game gradually taking over his life. As the boundary between reality and fantasy starts to blur, Sam feels the wrath of his sins closing in on him. As he struggles to stay alive, Sam will realise that the game he has played has unleashed a terrible monster in the real world, one whose sole goal is to hunt him down and end him.

© 503 directed by Francis Han – 2022

503 can best be described as a horror film that messes with your mind, forcing you to look over your shoulders for its entire runtime. The film is scary and by scary, we mean it’s terrifying. From mysterious games that bend reality to unseen monsters only seen through the shadows, this short film has it all to pique your interest, keep it hooked and then deliver a banger ending. Kudos to Han for developing a creepy atmosphere throughout, one that begins to take its toll on both the protagonist and the audience watching his every move. There is a sick sense of pleasure to be had in seeing the protagonist tortured; since he is both an indifferent man-child and a thief that steals from old men.

The acting is fine across the board with Sam, played by Patrick Burkard getting the most screen time. Burkard must go from a douche individual to a hapless victim quickly and he manages to sell his character easily. In addition, George Ross as the old man is also very convincing. The script provides these actors plenty of moments to display a fair number of acting chops which they manage to do so effortlessly.

© 503 directed by Francis Han – 2022

In the directing department, Francis Han displays an assured hand as he keeps the narrative on track while ensuring that the central crux of the film is developed as intended as the plot progresses further. This is no mean feat as Han juggles multiple creative roles in getting the film made; writing, editing and directing the production.

In the visual department, the film really pops off the screen due to the vibrant colours employed. The higher saturation and warmer saturation used gives the film a highly professional look and elevates every set piece considerably. Not only do the actors look better but everything else does as well. The visual effects of the monster are minimalist but effective; they establish the level of danger faced by the protagonist in an effective way. In addition, the jump scares employed a couple of times throughout the film get the job done as well.

© 503 directed by Francis Han – 2022

The colourful visual palette is not the only thing going for the film in the cinematography department. Equally impressive is the handheld shooting style that evokes a feeling of gritty documentaries. Extreme closeup shots of the main character as he consumes drugs and is consumed by fear are pretty nerve wracking and there is a specific purpose why Han chooses to frame his action in this way. The film hits it out of the park in the visual department despite its limited budget which shows the creative process of its makers in delivering a product that shows that passion knows no bounds.

The short runtime of the production also works in its favour. The characters are briskly introduced, and the narrative gets on its way, with no useless shots or dialogues slowing down the film’s momentum. Therefore, it is important to consider the tight editing here as well. Han and Komal expertly develop the central narrative, showcase the pitfalls of the main character and reveal the demon all in a span of 15 minutes. In addition, they also manage to hide the main twist until the very end, ensuring that the audience does not get wind of why Sam has been handed over a possessed video game that will make his life hell. The plot unwinds itself

© 503 directed by Francis Han – 2022

Therefore, to summarise, 503 is a valiant effort that uses crisp visuals, good acting and an immersive story to provide a great audio-visual experience to its audience. Director Francis Han has made a very good film, one that goes above and beyond its superficial confines to deliver something more for its audience. There is a hint of genius in this short, one that is hard to put a finger on but easy to experience once you commit to it in its entirety.

ABOUT THE director

Francis Han is a writer, director, editor, colorist born in Zhejiang China. He made his first short film Broken Again during high school. Now you will see a revolution in 503, which is Written and Directed by Francis Han.

Instagram
@503film / @francis_45678

“The original intention of shooting 503 was that I wanted to integrate different majors. 503 is a film-noir, and many classic techniques are utilized in the film, such as entrapment and doppelganger shadows. At the same time, there are many new experiments such as warmer colors, higher saturation, and pink skin tone. I believe these experiments are successful and resulted in a distinctive visual effect.”

– Francis Han

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