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Burn

People talk about things being immortalized on film, but these days that doesn't seem like such a big deal. Thanks to phones and a host of other gadgets, we're so used to taking and deleting video on a whim there doesn't seem anything immortal about it anymore. In Burn, however, video is alarmingly permanent, and you never know when it will come back to change everything.

It begins when Peter Vaubarn (Max Cavenham) sets up a camera and starts recording messages for his as-yet-unborn son. It's a sweet idea done for the saddest of reasons -- Peter knows he won't live long enough to see his son grow up, and this is the only way he can be a dad. From demonstrating how to tie a tie to reminiscing about meeting his wife Lou (Emma Kelly), Peter tries to cover everything in these videos. (Don't worry, it isn't all found footage.)

Then Peter is gone, leaving Lou and their son Charlie (Matti Kolirin) to manage as best they can. This isn't easy for more than the reasons you might expect. Peter wasn't the most law-abiding citizen, you see, and at least two of the neighbors (Sadie-Jane Scott and Julius Rost) have done their best to keep Lou and Charlie isolated. Though she shields her son as much as she can, it's a difficult battle for Lou. And when one of Peter's videos unexpectedly resurfaces, its legacy may be the hardest thing of all for Lou -- and Charlie -- to face.

I'll give it four and a half out of five. There is one scene that goes pretty far over the top -- you'll see it coming -- but for the most part this movie has a quiet sort of suspense, which works very well. Whereas most movies might end roughly where this one starts, here the aftermath of tragedy takes center stage.

Both Charlie and Lou are utterly realistic characters -- they might be our next door neighbors or even us -- which makes their situation that much more startling. The ending is wonderfully unsettling, but just as important the pacing of the movie never falters, pulling us steadily into the world of one broken little family... and reminding us that old sins always cast longer shadows than we realize.

Image: 
Peter making a video. He's not comfy in front of the camera, but he'll manage.

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