REVIEW: by Peter Nichols | B+
Sundown explores mankind’s most dreadful, darkest, farthest and fearful question, “What is it like to die?” Frazer Hines (Emmerdale, Dr. Who. Outlander) who plays William asks Caitlin Blackwood (Dr. Who) who plays Abigail in Sundown.
Sundown benefits from everything that makes a short movie successful and much more than that. It is short and precise, it is thoughtful, it is discussing one simple point, but in-time. It is juxtaposing the idea of life, death and the value the time in-between the two ends from the point of view of two characters.
The discussion kicks off with memories, and it moves back and forth in a friendly dialogue until it proceeds into a deeper contemplation between the two characters. This progression presents a light-hearted perspective to the subject, and sets us at rest to the answer this question by observing nature, and accepting that we are mortal.
The storytelling of Sudown plays with the idea of time versus the idea of life in a cute way, we almost cannot tell who is dying. And we are stuck trying to decide who it is. While the story is subjective, so is the storytelling, and Ryan Hendrick has done a great job to present this idea to us (audience), so we too can answer this question in our heart, long before we get to the point where death looms. And if want to, we can live in the moment, rather than be terrified of death.
If I am accurate, I would not see Sundown from a point of review only, but also from a point of poetry, myth and legend. Ryan maybe trying to ride on his scottish ancestry to tell us a tale about Scotland and its goddesses.
I am aware that Scottish Myths and Legends are not presented like the Greek and Roman Myths, in fact, it specifically deals with nature, life and goddesses. The visual theme of Sundown carries this theme heavily into the story. It is set on an island, reachable by boat (of course it is modern time, so it has to be a motor boat), but it is a boat with an elderly man seeking an answer that we all will seek to a dark question; “What is it like to die?”.
The rivers in Scotland were thought of as the dwelling places of goddesses, while the character of the goddess is denoted by the nature of the river. William represents us (humans), the river he rode on is the dwelling place of a goddess, which was “deaf” (soundless river), like the River Forth, because of its somewhat silent flow. And William carries a letter with a photo, and expects to meet up with someone maybe the goddess while on his journey (we notice he carries a suitcase).
Ryan proceeds to bring in subjective storytelling. Who is Abi? Is Abi a goddess? We don’t know. Is she is a relative of William? Probably.
In conclusion, Sundown is the story about how a person’s perception of life can change once they accept their own mortality. We go through life fearing death for the longest time. An inherent subconscious thought of a distant certainty. So when you reach a point in our lives when death looms, you can either deny the inevitable, or embrace your mortality and begin to live life unafraid of its conclusion. says Ryan Hendrick
Final Grade B+