Film - Ghost Nets

Susan Omand heads for the Kent coast as she watches the short film Ghost Nets from Mark Bousfield...

I really like it that we get work from independent creatives direct to review out of the blue, rather than always putting in requests to (read as pleading with) larger distributors to let us watch/read/listen to something they’re marketing. That’s what happened with Ghost Nets, the short film by Mark Bousfield as he started up a conversation with us on Twitter that led to us being sent a link to watch his film. So, not knowing anything more about it than that, I set forth to give it a watch.

Essentially the story revolves around quiet 23 year old Neal, his outgoing older brother Jack and Jack’s wife Matilda who go on a surfing trip together to the Kent coast. However it’s more than just the surf that is up as things take a darker turn when something gets washed up on the shore.

The first thing I’ll say is don’t be misled by the geometric designs in the sky in the opening credits. This isn’t a science fiction film even though it has that feel at the start. The main plot itself is a simple story that comes to a highly satisfying, if slightly obvious, conclusion but, through clever characterisation, writer/director Mark Bousfield has managed to add a lot of depth to this 25 minute film with many side-stories, both explained and hinted at, that make the brothers a lot more rounded, both as individuals and as siblings. Jack, played by Bruce Lawrence, has very strong character development through the film, from the loud, brash arse of a bullying brother at the start to experiencing a gamut of emotions as his demons creep out over the campfire. Neal too, played by Joe Sowerbutts, grew well as a character from his quiet introverted start. The character that didn’t work so well for me was the wife, Matilda (played by Charlotte Mounter). I can see that a third character was essential to the latter part of the main story but she was just kind of “there” for the rest of it, not adding anything either by herself or through her interaction with the brothers and I think more could have been done with her. Likewise the fourth character in the film (played by Lloyd Morris), on screen for only a couple of minutes and only as a plot device – I can see why Bousfield felt he was needed but for me his character and storyline wasn’t necessary for the conclusion of the main story and I felt it didn’t add much to the plot.

There is another character though that I do need to mention, in addition to the four actors listed, and that is the scenery – what an evocative setting the Kent coast is, with the white cliffs, dark caves and heavy grey seas and leaden skies adding to the atmosphere. The cinematography and camera work is fantastic and I loved the sparse but effective use of slow motion in the scene setting shots.

That atmosphere though, for me, was spoiled a bit by the soundtrack. The music, apart from the end song which was brilliantly chosen and placed, seemed very loud and intrusive rather than enhancing the mood and having it drowning out the conversation, even if it was intentional, was very frustrating. But that is a small criticism in what was a highly enjoyable film which was produced on a tiny budget and entirely crowdfunded and is now up for some awards, showing the quality of independent and creative film-making talent out there that needs to receive more recognition.

Image - Ghost Nets

Find out more about the film at
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