You can almost taste the dirt in Daniel Bergeson’s short film Unearthed.
The viscerally naturalistic opening shot is disturbed with a tummy-churning yell to let you know straight up that all is not well in this countryside setting.
Billed as a mother coming to terms with her guilt, there’s a tantalising and disturbing back-story to Unearthed, which defines itself as a ‘supernatural drama’.
In the opening scenes, the soft breeze rustles the leaves and swings the grass, but it is a story that is caught between this world and another. And it’s not for nothing we first see the Mother halfway to hell as she digs out a grave.
There’s a duality to Unearthed. It feels more to do with emotional burying than it is with allowing issues to come to light.
Aimee Klein, as the Mother, tackles the difficulty of the varying tones of distraught, wrangling between physical and mental exhaustion, which is combined with a sense of justice and satisfaction plus fear and regret.
The Daughter, played by Anya Clites, has a knowing innocence, with her too-white dress that contrasts with the grubbiness around her. Her too-direct assessments sit alongside the youthful request for ice cream.
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The twang of distant guitars bookmark the soundtrack, which is otherwise largely the ambient sound of the countryside, disturbed only by the shovel cutting through the dirt.
There’s plenty to keep you entertained and thought-provoked in the 10 minutes of Unearthed. And its brevity and engagement lend itself to multiple viewings, which open up news strands of enquiry into the story, motivations and outcomes, not only about the characters but where they fit in the landscape.
Daniel Bergeson is a filmmaker from Sioux Falls, SD, USA, and current student at Augustana University in Sioux Falls.