Prolific filmmaker Patrick Rea puts modern American society under a The Twilight Zone-style microscope in his latest short film, Justice Served. This examination of murky morality opens post-viewing questions for discussion while delivering an entertaining horror story.

Nathan (Davis DeRock) is on trial for suspicion of deliberately pushing a little girl into the oncoming path of a speeding car, driven by Andrea Paddington (Jennifer Seward-DeRock). His attorney Mia (executive producer Elisa James) is certain that the jury will rule in his favor, but intense grilling from opposing lawyer Mr. Wrenson (Jason Curtis Miller) and the unreliable testimony of witness Edgar Stonewright (Tom Sutton) may be his undoing. If the jury does not decide favorably, a gruesome sentence awaits Nathan.

Patrick Rea wrote, directed, edited, and produced Justice Served. Viewers who have seen Rea’s previous work, such as the feature films Arbor Demon (AKA Enclosure) and Nailbiter or shorts like Pillow Fright and Howl of a Good Time, know to expect filmmaking of the highest quality from him, and this short certainly carries on that tradition. Rea’s screenplay slowly unveils layers of surprises that take the film into unexpected directions, never tipping its hand too much, too early. As the court case proceeds and the short delves deeper into horror territory, the suspense builds and Nathan’s fate becomes uncomfortably relatable.

Hanuman Brown-Eagle’s cinematography is superb, with a good deal of time spent on close-ups of actors as their characters try to remain straight-faced or emotive while giving their testimony. Slight changes in facial expressions convey a great deal in Justice Served’s courtroom, and the cast is rock solid in portraying delight, disappointment, and more.

It’s important to not give too much away regarding the plot of Justice Served. Its emotional impact lies in its surprising route to its ultimate social commentary. Patrick Rea has crafted another winner. Watch for it as it begins its film festival rounds.

(4 / 5)

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry’s formative years were spent watching classic monster movies (starting with "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" and "Godzilla Vs. the Thing") and TV series (starting with "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits"), Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features" and Roy Shires’ Big Time Wrestling (two northern California legends); reading Silver Age and Bronze Age Gold Key, Dell, Charlton, Marvel, and DC comics; and writing mimeographed newsletters about the original "Planet of the Apes" film and TV series. More recently, he has written for "Filmfax" magazine, is the foreign correspondent reporter for the "Horror News Radio" podcast, and is a regular contributing writer to "Phantom of the Movies’s VideoScope" magazine, occasionally proudly co-writing articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.

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