‘At the End of the Cul-de-Sac’ is a Frightening Fable and a Filmmaking First

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Short of the Day

A breakdown with extreme consequences.

We’re going to finish this week with something really, really neat, and a filmmaking first. The short in question is called At the End of the Cul-de-Sac, and it comes from executive producer-writer-director Paul Trillo.

First let’s elaborate about that “filmmaking first” comment: this is the first short ever, Trillo says, to be shot in one take, from a drone, with dialogue. That’s right, the entire short was filmed by a hovering camera controlled by remote and zipping around a group of actors as they performed the scene. As if all that wasn’t impressive enough – and it very much so is, especially when you watch the short – the story at the film’s heart is a chilling social fable that would turn Shirley Jackson’s blood cold.

Without dipping into spoiler territory, the basic plot involves a man having a meltdown in the middle of a residential neighborhood as the residents debate how to handle him. That’s all you need to know, other than the film comes with a mature rating, so, you know, no kids.

And you might think that the production of the film would distract from its story, but the drone hovering like another observer among the cast and soaring above the scene to capture it from a god’s-eye-view perspective definitely enhances the particular judgmental and voyeuristic atmosphere of the film.

At the End of the Cul-de-Sac is a gripping, haunting, and subtle thriller with resounding emotional ramifications. You need to do three things: watch this immediately, then jump over to Trillo’s Vimeo page and check out the rest of his work including a making-of featurette, then hope he has more work coming, because he’s definitely a filmmaker to watch.

Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist