Welcome to the maiden voyage of #405Shorts, where we will bring you a fine short film — some known, some relatively unknown — presented in a short, eminently readable review.

This week’s selection, Play Violet for Me (2016), can be watched here for free.

We are starting this feature off with a film by Kevin Sluder and the fine people at Sunshine Boy Productions in Los Angeles. Kevin, this film, and other projects in Sunshine Boy’s pipeline, are examined in our chat with him, published in The 405 Film.

I came across this stylish, sexy, and cerebral neo-noir short when Sunshine Boy Productions, and the film’s official Twitter, followed me recently. Violet is a sleek and sophisticated killer at just a hair over 13 minutes.

Foley (Matt Mercer) is a rather addled loner who’s life comes apart at the seams as he retells events that happened earlier that day to Lyla (Najarra Townsend). Not much more can be said of the plot without giving away MAJOR spoilers, so, let’s examine some of the more technical parts of this very sleek neo-noir short.

The monochrome cinematography in Play Violet for Me is absolutely gorgeous and the alternating color is sexy as hell and used judiciously. Violet’s writer, Kevin Sluder and her cinematographer Patrick McGinley, employed this tactic to give homage to film noir stories of the classic period (which Violet very much pays homage to in story — more on that below) while keeping a modern twist. The result is a fantastic, sleek as hell ride, keeping its own supreme originality, but not afraid to tip its hat to its influences: particularly David Lynch, Elmore Leonard, John Dahl, and the early work of the Coen Brothers — particularly Blood Simple (1984), artists who themselves are not afraid to acknowledge their influences. The monochrome keeps the astute audience member grounded in the old world of classic film noir, while simultaneously not leaving the present: very well displayed in the color parts of the film.

What will really strike you about the piece, however, is the story’s Hitchcockian nature: this is one of the most damned inventive plots I’ve ever seen in a short film while not stretching the bounds of what is believable, and hence keeping the suspension of disbelief solidly intact for the viewer. The plot itself is very reminiscent of both Vertigo (1958) and Mulholland Dr. (2001) for reasons you will see upon watching. It is a supremely well-crafted psychologically hard boiled thriller.

Najarra Townsend is absolutely electrifying as Lyla, and the femme fatale Violet.

Violet’s director, Matt Mercer, as the hapless loner Foley.

Violet is a savagely sexy and sleek neo-noir thriller that should not be missed by fans of great cinema. You owe it to yourself to watch it above. It’s well worth the 13 minutes.