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Review: Priyam Sadhukhan’s “From a Barren State”

I’m glad that this short film provided me with a moment to step away from slasher films, possession flicks and creature features to enjoy a taste of something different. The fact of the matter is – one of the scariest realizations that we can come to is that often the most heinous acts are carried out by human beings that look just like you and me. You never know what hidden agenda a stranger has, and if it will push you to your psychological limit to escape them. A lot of these themes are tackled in the new title from Pretty Petty Humans and IM Films, From a Barren State. The film centers around a young woman, wandering through the desert in search of an abandoned home she used to live in. Did I mention that she’s very far into a pregnancy? When she has lost all hope and is on the verge of collapsing, an older couple arrives to offer her shade and shelter from the heat. After coming to her senses, the soon to be mother realizes the couple has dark intentions that force her to make drastic decisions. And violent ones. Written, directed and edited by Priyam Sadhukhan, From a Barren State stars Laura Van Yck, Sandra Bowes and Sean McCormack.

From a Barren State is a coherent mix of horror, drama and a psychological thriller. It starts with a bang, with a pregnant woman walking alone through the desert, and dips into each genre as the story progresses. Although, it definitely ends its narrative clearly in the world of horror. I was expecting zombies or cannibals, to be quite honest, but Priyam Sadhukhan went with an original approach and dared to do a story that’s more poignant and thought provoking. From a Barren State centers fully on the struggles and strengths of mothers and women in general, and the things they will do to protect the family they nurtured. There’s that saying about mother’s lifting cars off of their injured children, well, after watching From a Barren State you’ll realize mother’s can kill, too. It also holds the theme that life is absolutely brutal; from giving life, to taking life, to receiving life – its painful and challenging and sometimes its quite lonely. Then, imagine throwing a secluded, traumatized, crazy couple into the mix! From a Barren State is brutal and unsettling for more than once reason.

From a Barren State is also quite beautiful. It was produced by Ishan Mehra with executive producers Prasun Kumar Sadhukhan and Bharati Sadhukhan, and features cinematography by Gurdeep Singh Sidhu. When it hits film festivals in the near future, I can almost guarantee that it’s going to win numerous awards in several categories; mostly in the realm of production and music. From a Barren State is visually pleasing, except for a few shots during the final fight, and activates all your senses. I could smell the old house, which was outdated in the greatest way and untouched by modern technology, for example. This short film is a home invasion in every sense of the word, from a literal house in the middle of no where to the metaphorical home we find in those we love. One of the most beautiful moments in a woman’s life is ruined due to real life horror, and the unmistakable pain that the older couple feels. It’s hard not to feel sorry for both sides in this amazing picture from Priyam Sadhukhan. If that isn’t a win win scenario, I don’t know what is!

Final Score: 7.5 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)