Joanna has been trying to have a baby with her husband Rob for some time. But she hasn’t had any luck, and the void in her life and her relationship remains empty and unfulfilled.
One night after trying to conceive under the beautiful night sky, her husband questions just why they’re trying so hard, exposing fissures in their marriage.
Just as all hope is lost, though, Joanna gets some help from an unexpected source. But help itself comes with a whole set of wild complications, and some devastating revelations.
Matthew Bumby and Benjamin Sliker write and direct a short sci-fi drama that explores the intersection of infertility and the chasms of aching and longing that it can open up in a partnership.
Though the film is undoubtedly sci-fi, the storytelling takes its time in the first half of the film to solidly establish its main character’s emotional circumstances, grounding the film in a deeply resonant and human situation. Through solid performances and compellingly perceptive writing, the audience understands Joanna’s primal yearning for a child to call her own, as well as Rob’s hurt that their relationship seemingly isn’t “enough” for Joanna.
Because the film carefully constructs the emotional dynamic within and between the couple, by the time the film shifts gears, we understand what’s at stake for Joanna — and just why she begins to welcome a sudden, overwhelming change that will fundamentally alter her life and body — and exposes just how hollow and even dangerous her relationship with Rob is.
By the time the suspense, tension and special effects gain momentum and “Expectant” enters sci-fi thriller territory, it still keeps its pulse on Joanna’s emotional arc, making for an unusually compassionate and perceptive story about an aspect of women’s experiences often shrouded in pain, silence and shame.
In a way, it’s much more of a drama with a sci-fi element, instead of the other way around. And though it ends, like many sci-fi shorts, with room for further exploration of the story, it does offer a complete emotional journey of a woman who achieves her heart’s deepest desire, though at an unexpected cost.