A woman wakes up in an overturned car. There is glass and blood everywhere. Suspended upside down, she is trapped and in pain. And her phone is ringing, but it is just out of reach.
She tries desperately to free herself, but only ends up hurting herself more. When another man comes to investigate the accident, he catches one look inside of her car, sees something incriminating and flees — leaving the woman to her fate and revealing more to the story.
Written and directed by Eros D’Antona, this short thriller immerses viewers immediately within a taut, suspenseful situation, each small building block injecting peril and urgency with each development. Through precise editing, sharp visual intelligence and a keen eye for framing and movement, the filmmaking carves out immense fear from the cramped space inside the car, limiting the context to the immediate moment and the character’s own increasingly narrowing range of reach. Both the character and audience are disoriented, as the film teases out a set of questions: what happened, and will the woman get out?
We spend considerable time in the car with the woman, and it’s a testament to the visceral, arresting quality of the craftsmanship and actor Desiree Popper’s piercing performance that we feel each obstacle and frustration she experiences — all without getting a clear view of her face.
When a man approaches the car, we and the woman expect help. But instead, he sees a broken bottle of alcohol in her car that causes him alarm, and he backs away. From there, the storytelling shifts to his discoveries about what happened as he investigates the scene as a whole. The pivot in perspective is a clever choice in the writing that explores a different dimension of the story. It raises new questions, ones that offer a fuller, more complicated view of the incident. To say more is to spoil the unraveling of a larger mystery.
Named after the road where the story takes place, “SC 4” rivets viewers’ attention immediately in its first minutes with pulse-pounding suspense and tension, and its effective build-up is enough to keep that attention. But the film smartly doesn’t rest on its excellent craftsmanship. Instead, it gracefully pivots from one dramatic question to another one with more complicated philosophical overtones and emotional resonance. It spins its fragment of a narrative beyond its initial agony and intimacy into a broader picture, with more characters and cross-currents of motivation. In the end, a darker picture of humanity emerges, where sympathy and empathy aren’t quite enough to overcome competing instincts of self-interest — and we so easily bury the truth underneath the obvious surfaces of everyday events.