Who would have thought that a cup of tea and a vengeful murder could happen all at once? Iain Cash’s new short film 'Chapel of Rest' takes on the meaning of simple but divinely executed, with a whirlwind of emotions and plot twists neatly packed into a fourteen minute short about avenging the unjust death of loved ones. From a director who’s previous films have won multiple awards such as Cash’s earlier film 'Dear John', ‘Chapel of Rest’ will live up to and exceed expectations of audiences with stellar writing and performances.
The beginning of the film has a theatre-like feel, with the drama placed in the casual dialogue between funeral director Niel (Kyle Brookes) and priest Father Jones (Sidney Kean) sitting in an empty church accompanied by a single coffin. The pair spend time discussing their lives as both a funeral director and priest, as well as what happened to the deceased over a nice cup of tea Niel prepared for Father Jones. Even cracking jokes about the lives of a priest and funeral director amongst a global pandemic in a post-covid world of film.
What truly makes the plot of this film standout however is the daringly simple plot twist that audiences will know in hindsight they should have seen coming, but nonetheless was surprising and elegantly executed. Niel tells Father Jones about how the deceased is a widower who died of old age after his wife and son both died from suicide, which in itself is a heavy concept but what Cash cleverly does with this information is slowly scatter clues in the middle and latter portion of the film about the truth: the family spoken about is actually Niel’s family, who’s brother died of suicide after being sexually abused by a preist by the name of Father Jones. Of course nothing in a film happens for no reason, even something as small as a cup of tea the priest drinks at the start which lo and behold contains a dose of poison given by Niel’s brother, just enough to paralyse and eventually kill Father Jones as a punishment for his crimes.
What’s interesting about the plot is it leaves audiences lingering, waiting for action then it all comes at once as the pieces of the puzzle fit together smoothly. The penny drops for the priest along with the audience as the moments of realisation come to light. One could argue that the film’s build up dialogue took slightly too long for the purpose of the film to be revealed, however it is this build up that makes the twist that much more shocking.
Kyle Brookes gives audiences an excellent portrayal of a surface level “average joe” with a myriad of malice inside. As both a stage and screen actor Brookes brings a variety of skills to his performance of the most important part of this film: the dialogue. Maintaining his cover as just another funeral director, no one would suspect the real reason he came to meet Father Joe until they catch on to the hints he is dropping halfway through the film. However once the truth is revealed his anger is evident but his face remains calm. This makes his emotions even more terrifying as he could erupt in violent outbursts but instead his character sneakily gets the revenge he’s sought for so long with a smile.
Sidney Kean embodies the character of Father Jones with a similar depth to Brookes as both characters slowly but surely lose their outer facade of innocence as the film develops, the difference being Father Jones is guilty of the unimaginable and is caught in a well thought out trap laid by Niel and his family. As his frail elderly man demeanour wears off it’s clear Father Jones is only upset about being caught rather than for his actions themselves, which Kean shows well as an unsympathetic character about to meet his demise.
By Sophie Price
Photography director Tim Follin does well at wrapping the film in grey cold tones to set the atmosphere from the opening shot, as well as cleverly placing the coffin mostly out of sight until it is opened and found to be empty. An interesting gem of cinematography in this film however is the end credits that roll over the backdrop of CCTV footage where the three brothers finish ending Jones’ life, which answers some audience questions that could be lingering from the final shot.
Sound mixer and composer Nicolás Iaconis provides chilling pieces of music over the opening and closing credits of the film, but also makes use of quiet. If we consider silence a type of sound then Iaconis uses quiet not just because the scene is set in an almost empty church, but also forces audiences to focus on interactions between characters and makes the film all the more suspenseful.
All of the above pieces of the film go towards its main themes of death, family, religion and revenge. The theme of death is clear from the opening of the film, with the setting and general atmosphere but Cash goes deeper than just writing a film about death. He explores complex issues such as the scandal of child abuse in the Catholic church and what it means to protect family members all while telling a dramatic and exciting story.
Overall, audiences will be shocked and intrigued by ‘Chapel of Rest’. It might not be an easy or uplifting watch, but the dark issues Cash takes on are real issues facing our world. The film is one of high quality all around, from the plot to the script as well as performances and technical aspects. Short, not so sweet but entertaining is the recipe of this film, one that is well worth a watch with a nice cup of tea.
Originally published on https://www.ukfilmreview.co.uk/reviews/chapel-of-rest