Mallory is a young woman minding her own business and reading a book in the park. She sees some mysterious people behind a tree who then run off. On her way home she is convinced she sees herself acting strangely and then also running off – although this is soon forgotten as a different woman frantically greets her like she knows her, says something about "wrong one" and then runs off. She meets the woman again but this time feels like the first time for some reason. The woman introduces herself as The Doctor and is apparently looking for a police box that is invisible; Mallory thinks she is nuts of course but when she is attacked by a creature the Doctor calls the Griffin (an invisible being that feeds off the specular energy residue of time vortexes) then suddenly Mallory is keener to listen to this batty woman.
I was wary of this short film for many reasons. Firstly it was from director Ukpo and so far his films have been a little hit and miss for me and a previous fan film he did was nothing too amazing. Secondly it featured two actresses who I had not really cared for the last time (the first time?) I saw them – in Random 11, another film from Ukpo. Plus this being a fan film from a very busy indie director really did make the cynical part of me wonder if he was just making it for the sake of it being a viral hit and getting some fame to help with other projects. In fairness this last one may be the case, but nothing wrong with that – the key thing is whether the short works or not.
The first thing to say is that this is not one of those short films where they have done great FX work with Blender or some other software that makes you amazed at what can be done, this is very much low-fi and the only effects are a bit of digital editing to make it look like the characters enter the TARDIS by making them vanish through a line in the sand – very 1950's special effects! The irony (and the strength of the film) is that the lack of overblown effects and silly monsters actually helps because this has become something hurting the show of late, so, although the short does this due to the limits of resources, it does actually feel pretty refreshing in a way to have it be just the people – although this does put a lot of pressure on the cast.
On this front I was really surprised. When I saw Maimone in Random 11 she was very stiff and didn't work – I know this was the direction given to her but still; however here she is great. Okay she stumbles a few lines here and there but she really does make a good Doctor as she gets the manic stuff, has good delivery of the funnier lines and generally works well – if it were an audition for the role you would probably give her a second look. Likewise I didn't care for Chok's character or performance in Random 11 but here she is a good companion. The key thing is that both actresses really go for it and to an introvert like me, that is really impressive. It must be hard to act like you are fighting being controlled by an alien when you are on a greenscreen on a multi- million dollar production, but to do it in a no-budget fan film in a cold park knowing that no cool effects will be added later, is another thing and I liked that they went for it even though they must have felt daft. Ukpo's direction is good enough, he plays it out with tension, uses music well (albeit unauthorized) and gives it a good flow. For some reason Lucky 13 is yet another example of his films where the sound is really not much good – not awful but certainly a lot of noise and inconsistent between scenes.
Lucky 13 is not an amazing film and for sure there are better fan films out there that do more with costumes and effects, so this is very limited even compared to those ventures, but it gets by because it has low-fi charm. The energy is decent and the two actresses are engaging and put in full effort. Go in knowing the limits and liking the Doctor and you'll find enough charm and energy for a basic fan film.
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