Gosh…why don’t words mean anything anymore? Why can’t people just be honest and do what they say? Why can’t people keep a damn secret?
Relatable sentiments are taken to ridiculous lengths in Dan Roe’s Keep Your Mouth Shut. Darkly comedic and perfectly paced, this holiday themed offering is essentially a single joke that is played to its most extreme outcome. It’s shocking and hilarious—not exactly deep, but hella’ entertaining.
As a curator for this site, I try to find analytic reasons to justify why some short comedies work for me and why others doesn’t. But, despite my attempts to find objective reasoning, it’s, ultimately, something you just feel in the gut. Keep Your Mouth Shut isn’t complex and, apart from the polished production values, there’s not much in terms of story or character depth that elevates it above comedic sketch territory. But, still, the film works—a mishmash of comedy and violence, where both the punchlines and brutality are perfectly paced and timed. That may seem like an easy task, but, let me tell ya, it isn’t. Dark comedy is a notoriously tricky genre to get right as it’s a constant balancing act to keep disparate tones in check. Roe manages to make something that feels both relatable (who hasn’t had a big secret they just had to share?) and over-the-top (the hitman character is a bounty of comedic material).
Roe’s directorial prowess is on full display here. The film looks great and features an interesting visual dynamic. As Roe relates to Short of the Week:
“I shot in a classic style, keeping the camera locked off and the moves very smooth and fluid. I employed a plan to use light and color to reflect my main character’s journey — lots of light early on and slowly progressing to very little light when his fate is sealed. I did the same with lenses and shot selection. The shots get closer and tighter on our main character until he makes the choice to break his promise, his mistake, then they start to back away from him again through to the end. I was also playing with character movement — the only person who moves around is the villain as he’s the active force. My main character is mostly frozen, only moving when he has a brief time to make a choice, otherwise stuck on the roof, stuck on his barstool, stuck in bed.”
Having played both Fantastic Fest and Rhode Island, Roe is hoping Keep Your Mouth Shut will open up other directorial opportunities for him. He already has several scripts in various stages of development. One script that he’s not directing will hopefully go into production in the Spring of 2019.
We look forward to seeing more from Roe as it’s clear he has a delightfully twisted comedic voice. In the meantime, for this Christmas season, cozy up with your loved ones. And, keep your damn mouth shut if a maniac killer tells you too!