“CHASING SHADOWS” is a British noir crime-thriller written and directed by Aoun Khan. The story follows a troubled detective (Cengiz Dervis) that reluctantly takes a murder case. He is told to investigate quietly to avoid attracting attention and it isn’t long before he realizes he’s in way over his head on the trail of a serial-killer. The murders continue and the detective does as well, working the case to track down a cunning madman as his life slowly begins to crumble all around him.
I love a layered murder mystery and all the dark elements they can provide. I also thoroughly enjoy watching small budget indies as a contrast to the constant blockbusters. I feel this keeps movie watching fresh, and when taking in one with a limited financial scope the ingenuity in film-making can often shine. Expecting these projects to be perfect is an unrealistic expectation but that doesn’t mean they cannot deliver a quality film. This one turned out to be a very well-crafted thriller that did have a few small flaws. Yet, it was compelling to see play out. It also showcased an artistic eye behind the camera that created a polished visual appeal for the budget restraints which I appreciated.
The cast was much better than most indie flicks of this size. Dervis in the lead was more than serviceable. His character type was one that we have seen before. A broken man, hooked on pills, with a mildly turbulent relationship, that becomes engrossed in a case. Sure, this character has been around before but Dervis brought his own twists to it. He injected it with his personality to make the character his own. And I felt there was more than enough to invest in to see where the story would take him. He brought emotional layers to the role that had a natural sincerity and it connected with me to build curiosity in how he would get out of this case. Which I feel is a success for a genre film such as this one. Surrounding him is a talented cast of performers that all brought effort and most important, a genuineness to their roles and with only a small sprinkle of over-acting, this was a very capable group of characters.
The story-line was a collection of elements and layers that we have seen before, but I think it still works. It’s a complete story with just enough twists and turns and regardless of some familiarity all the pieces do fit together. The narrative does get more predictable than I would prefer but with the effort from the cast and a capable eye behind the camera this movie succeeds. The violence was nicely captured to portray the sinister skill set of the killer and it kept me wanting to see more. The pace is swift and the story is constantly moving forward which keeps the engagement level up. The story layers escalate evenly leaving bodies in its wake while still capturing the agonizing character study of a detective slowly losing control and it’s a good time.
From a technical aspect is where this film really shines. I think Kahn’s direction, and the cinematography were excellent. From start-to-finish lights are utilized to capture the noir feel of the story-line. From police lights in the backdrop, hallway fixtures, or the glow from windows, the entire mood of the film is created by the lighting. With the camera angles rounding out a moody atmosphere that I felt was perfectly tailored for this genre of film. The musical score was also effective in elevating the vibe of the movie itself as well as many moments throughout the story. The score heightened emotional responses with an unassuming approach that blended nicely with the tone. So despite the similarities in places, the quality in many others more than makes up for it. “Chasing Shadows” shows effort and ambition for an indie film, it feel much bigger in scope that one as well and if you’re a fan of the genre then keep this one on your radar.