Aberration (Ciarán Ó Goibín) tells the story of an unnamed protagonist embarking on a journey of self discovery in the woods. Described by the director as an attempt to create a Lynchian atmosphere, the ambiguity of the story is certainly in keeping with its inspiration. The short’s dark colour palette and intense themes can also be compared to First Reformed, mentioned at the beginning of the film. Despite this, Ciaran says that any similarities are purely coincidental, although the mystery and intensity of the film similarly establish it as a thriller.
The use of sound throughout the film is instrumental in furthering the sinister, foreboding tone. Characters speak in almost a whisper: a feature that, when combined with the use of intense close ups, makes us feel as if we are intruding on private conversations. Loud nature sounds in the woodland sequences provide a contrast to the dialogue, and immerse us viscerally into the action. The success of the sound editing is a testament to the director: while it is often a feature that student films fall down on, the sound in this short only serves to accentuate the pervading feeling of dread.
The short is expertly shot: a feature that, along with the colour scheme, serves to solidify the tone. A particularly memorable scene displays the main character sitting opposite himself at his kitchen table in what appears to be a wordless struggle with the darker side of his character. The scene displays the director’s technical prowess and gives us an insight into protagonist’s inner conflict. The colour scheme also contributes to this- the colours in the indoor scenes are muted and subdued, while the vibrancy of the woods represents the protagonist’s increased confusion.
Aberration is an experimental short exploring the multi-faceted nature of emotion, and it successfully captures the conflict within the protagonist’s mind. Fans of Bergman and Lynch, this one’s for you.