Film Review: Salvatore Creates Incredible Dread in Six Minutes

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By Matthew Goodman |

It’s always good when a film can cause an existential crisis in your life. The short film “Salvatore” uses a tense atmosphere and a mortifying concept to leave the viewer speechless in just six short minutes.

The film takes place in a small hospital room. The general idea of the film is that the Pope suffered a stroke and was medically dead for seven minutes. Upon resuscitating, he tells his travel aide that he saw nothing on the other side and now doubts his faith. The Vatican, in an attempt to quell any rumors of the Pope’s doubts, sends in Salvatore to confront the Pope and his aide.

The jarring start of the film led me to expect some sort of wild ride. It reminded me of the French horror film “Martyrs.” Both films left me with a sense of emptiness and dread, but had dramatically different approaches.

While “Martyrs” is one of the most graphic and difficult to watch films I’ve ever seen, “Salvatore” uses tight dialogue and an incredibly off-putting atmosphere to create a similar sense of dread.

The acting is top notch. Massi Furlan, who plays Salvatore, is intimidating and exudes evil. His clashing with the aide, played by Carlo Corbellini, moves the story along. They carry out the dark script with ease, making the characters believable and the tension palpable.

There wasn’t much to the set but the lighting and cinematography created a dark, brooding mood that set the stage for the film’s thought-provoking climax. The director, William Shermer, seems to have done an excellent job.

The film’s abrupt ending was certainly effective. It shocked everyone in the theater, but still left many wanting more. The film had such a solid concept that it could have made it longer. That being said, I understand why they made it so short, creating a sudden sucker punch of an effective movie. Overall, it’s an impressive and impactful short film – it did, however, keep me wanting them to push it a little further.

A Flagler alumnus, Anthony Melino, was the production manager for the film, which has been shown in four festivals since 2013, including the recent Florida Film Festival in Winter Park, Fla. It will make its fifth festival appearance at the Newport Beach Film Festival on April 28.

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