Chance is a funny thing. The combination of forces unseen, creating ripple effects leading to consequences and events that seem simultaneously both random and fateful. Regardless how they're interpreted, the resulting impact can be one that ranges anywhere from positive (yay, you're rich) to negative (boo, now you're dead) and everything in-between. George Fraser's short film, 'Happenstance' covers exactly this. Demonstrating a handful of scenarios and events that occur as a result of chance, all of which are seen through the lens of horror.
Opening with a rather distressful cat-and-mouse scene involving a nameless sun-glass wearing sociopath (Kevin Whittier) and his latest escaped victim, an attractive half-naked woman, 'Happenstance' wastes no time in engaging it's audience. It isn't long at all before her pursuer catches up, and after a solid bop to the head, our poor damsel in distress is brought right back to the secluded shack of a house from which she fled. Unfortunately for her, this would be the last time an opportunity for freedom presents itself, as she ultimately pays for her transgression in the form of blood, guts and tears.
Now one captive short, this murderous woodsman heads out to find his latest victim, and it is at this point after picking up his seemingly helpless target (Christina Kostoulakos) that you begin to understand the relevance of "happenstance", and what it means within the context of the film. Let's just say that this coincidental, chance encounter, leads both characters on a path to violence, friendship, and perhaps even love. Oh, and those ripples produced as a result of a specific event I spoke about earlier, have a rather substantial effect on the fate of a potential victim, leading to a rather hilarious finale.
As it stands, 'Happenstance' works very well as a sort of proof-of-concept project, even if it is a self-contained completed piece. The central premise is one that could easily be built upon to deliver a more fleshed out (perhaps feature length) film; mechanically working like 2004's 'Crash' but framed and presented as horror. The aesthetic here is one that's grimy, oppressive, and heavy with dreadful atmosphere, complimented well enough with an appropriately bleak (if overbearing) soundtrack. The acting and editing are a bit rough around the edges, but given this is more a presentation of an idea or rough sketch if you will, rather than a full production project, its more than forgivable; 'Happenstance' gets it's point across clearly (and violently). Speaking of violence, major props to the crew responsible for the practical effects work here; its evident there was extra care put into this aspect of the film, impressive considering it's likely shoe-string budget. All-in-all, we have here a strong debut for George Fraser; one that hopefully works out as a launchpad to a long and successful career as an optimistic - and talented - contributor to the indie horror scene.
If you're interested in following George Fraser's work (or any of the cast members involved), please head on over to the official Facebook page and drop a line, show some love, or beg for a screening :-)