By Connor Simpson | Drama
A young boy is questioned after his friend disappears. Then he makes a life-altering choice.

During a scorching hot summer in the South, Corbin and Whit explore an abandoned farm. When the two boys climb a bale of hay and horse around in the way that kids do, Whit falls from the bale and into a hidden pit below, overgrown with kudzu vines. Fearful and wondering if this is another one of Whit's jokes, Corbin runs off, leaving Whit behind.

But Whit never returns and Corbin remains silent about what happened, scared of the repercussions. As Whit's disappearance begins to deeply affect the people around him, Corbin must wrestle with his conscience and the increasing weight of his silence and shame.

Writer-director Connor Simpson's thoughtful coming-of-age drama combines an earthy, exquisite visual beauty with storytelling focused on silence and hidden feelings, forming a portrait of a golden innocence slowly but inexorably pulled beneath an undertow of guilt and secrecy.

The writing is pared-down but sculpted with great care, as are the images -- each shot possesses a poetic, sun-soaked quality, evocative of the sleepy, almost pastoral Southern setting, and the sound of the film is rich with details, from the spurts of a sprinkler to the hum of cicadas to the buzzing of hungry flies.

These rhythms infuse the editing and pacing, giving time and breathing room for viewers to take in the atmosphere of this world and its characters. As the narrative creeps forward, shadows seep in, as well as a haziness that subtly darkens the tone and feel of the film.

Dialogue may be sparse, but each line carries a resonant portent, as does each choice to stay silent, adding weight to Corbin's anguish. As a result, the performances here become less about action and more about embodying states of being and mind. Young actor Jake Whipple accomplishes this well, with a fine degree of restraint and an ability to subtly shade the encroaching creep of guilt.

As the audience, we know Corbin should speak up about what he knows, and he knows this as well. And yet he can't, with each hour miring him deeper in his dilemma. The discovery of Whit's fate, too, is a question mark, though it never drives the drama, which remains focused on Corbin. When the situation finally unravels in full, Corbin must essentially leave his childhood behind as he wrestles with the full weight of his actions.

Taking inspiration from the namesake vines of its title, "Kudzu" is a finely wrought portrait of how the darkest recesses of shame, guilt and silence come to the surface, no matter how much we try to ignore these difficult feelings or push them down.

But there is also a modicum of hope for Corbin, and for anyone else who wrestles with profound anguish about the repercussions of a life-altering choice. In the end, it also reveals the gift of compassion and forgiveness -- a redemption that allows us to face the fallout of our failings and find some degree of acceptance, and maybe eventually peace.

You Might Also Like:


By Oliver Goodrum | Drama
A man who bullied a disabled girl tries to escape his past. Then an angry mob finds him.


By Candice Carella | Drama
A single mother leaves her young daughter with a rock musician uncle.


By Richard Prendergast | Drama
A single mother takes her family on a road trip. But it's to an unwanted destination.

Second Best

By Alyssa McClelland | Comedy
Twin sisters turn into rivals when one's gymnastics career steals the spotlight.

No More Wings

By Abraham Adeyemi | Drama
2 friends meet at their favorite fried chicken shop. But their lives have diverged.


By Gokalp Gonen | Animation
A man is trapped on a spaceship after his robot overseer finds every planet uninhabitable.

Feeling Through (Oscars)

By Doug Roland | Drama
A homeless teen meets a deaf-blind man who changes his life forever...


By Hadley Hillel | Drama
A man's suicide attempt rips a hole in the ceiling. Then he befriends the boy upstairs.

Dig Your Own Grave

By Kirk Larsen | Comedy
A man is forced to dig his own grave in the desert. But the ground is hard.

Call Connect

By Josiah Allen and Indianna Bell | Drama
A young helpline operator takes her first call and gets more than she expected.

More Than God

By Kev Cahill | Comedy
A devoted husband suspects his wife is cheating on him. Then he hides under the bed.

Welcome to Iron Knob

By Dave Wade | Comedy
A young boy accidentally shoots a stranger and the town tries to cover it up.


By Erika Davis-Marsh | Romance
A young dancer falls for a deaf guy, then tries to find her place in the world.

Toni With an I

By Marco Alessi | Drama
An awkward girl doesn't fit in at school. Then the Internet comes to save her.

The Things You Think I'm Thinking

By Sherren Lee | Drama
A burn-survivor goes on his first date after his accident.

Your favorite short films you haven't seen yet.

Inspiring and insightful. Entertaining and enlightening.
That's what you can expect here: no fluff. Just a steady
stream of the best films delivered to your inbox.