Influence

By Indy Dang | Drama
A teen is bullied in private school, then rebels when his older brother returns home.

Cal is a 16-year-old private school student who achieves high grades and is in many ways a model son. But he struggles with his identity and doesn’t fit in at school, and is often the target of other students’ persecution.

When his older brother suddenly drops out of college and returns home, Cal explores a freer, more rebellious side of life — but it puts him on a collision course to damaging his future altogether and tear their family apart.

Written and directed by Indy Dang, this compelling short drama has teen protagonists, and stereotypically adolescent themes of identity and rebellion power its well-paced narrative forward. But it achieves a richness and resonance through the emotional depth of its writing and performances, creating a story that pulls at viewers’ sympathy, even as the plot and characters grow ore complicated.

The film’s mood begins with its weathered, burnished look. Muted naturalism and a moodiness in its light and color signal a more serious approach to the milieu, capturing something of the somberness and grit of New England. Within this background, the narrative situates this story of two brothers, who form a classic pair of opposing forces.

Cal is the straight-arrow, low-maintenance high achiever who wins praise, while his brother Landon is the rebellious, angry troublemaker. Landon’s arrival back home threatens the family equilibrium that reveals the dysfunction of its dynamics. His renewed bond with Cal also sets off a chain of events engrossing in the story’s willingness to engage deeply in its characters’ longings, vulnerabilities and flaws.

Young actors Kyle Brier and Samuel Blustein play Cal and Landon, respectively, with a depth and maturity that gives them precision and fluency with the thornier aspects of their characters. Cal begins to explore his rebellious side, where he feels freer to explore who he is, while Landon starts to embrace his favored brother again. These two arcs are intertwined, informing one another in a way that only siblings who are friends are able — but which also leads to unpredictable consequences that threaten the family and Cal’s future.

“Influence” is ultimately a story about fellowship, friendship and the uniquely intense, fraught but fiercely loyal bond between brothers, a story told with a remarkable level of emotional engagement, especially for a short. Continually engaging and powerful to watch, viewers come to care for these characters, even when they make potentially catastrophic mistakes and decisions. An aching, yearning empathy is the brothers’ gift to one another — as well as the story’s gift to the audience.




You Might Also Like:

Pony

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

Frimas

By Marianne Farley | Drama
A woman goes to an illegal abortion clinic, following the adoption of an anti-abortion law.

A La Cara

By Javier Marco | Drama
A famous reporter confronts a man for insulting her on Twitter.

Mousie

By David Bartlett | Drama
A young Roma girl is discovered by Nazis as they cleanse the streets of 'undesirables'.

Ganef

By Mark Rosenblatt | Drama
A little girl thinks she sees a family cleaner steal a precious ornament. Then it escalates.

Leylak

By Scott Aharoni and Dennis Latos | Drama
A father keeps a painful secret from his daughter during COVID -- but risks losing her.

Free Fall

By Emmanuel Tenenbaum | Drama
A young trader jumps into the biggest trade of his life amid the September 11 attacks.

Champ

By Ben Tricklebank | Drama
A 14-year-old is expected to be a man. But he doesn't want to grow up that way.

The Recordist

By Indianna Bell and Josiah Allen | Drama
A young actress has an affair with the director. The sound recordist blackmails her.

Bruiser

By Miles Warren | Drama
A young boy explores his manhood after his father fights at a bowling alley.

Sylvia

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.

Avarya

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...



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.