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An absolute standout among this year’s excellent Fantastic Fest shorts, “The Three Men You Meet at Night” is now available to watch for free from Alter.

There’s an inherent challenge to making a short film. Characters need to be relatable without 30 minutes of preamble, the story needs to feel unrushed, and the visual style needs to arrest the viewer’s attention in every frame. Brevity can be an enemy for a filmmaker. But in the right hands, a short runtime will bring nuanced, beautiful choices that take a short film to the next level.

The Three Men You Meet at Night is that type of film.

Making its premiere at Fantastic Fest 2020, The Three Men You Meet at Night was a standout film in a strong grouping. Its atmosphere and beautiful cinematography demands attention and, with it’s premiere on ALTAR, this film deserved a full review.

A girl tries to make her way home, even as her circumstances become more and more threatening.

The central conceit of The Three Men You Meet at Night is its simplicity.

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There are a lot of short films that try to cram symbolism and plot into every frame. This film doesn’t worry about trying to feel deeper than it is. Instead, it chooses to place its focus in a message that is terrifying and prescient, while maintaining stunning visuals that never to let up.

Misogyny is at the heart of this film. There’s no mistaking it. It’s in every interaction that the female protagonist is forced to face while she tries to get home. Shadowed men in pickup trucks who roll by her whistling, innocent boys who seem non-threatening until they feel slighted or left behind, and police officers that think their power is omnipotence.

It’s not easy to make normal people seem menacing. The Three Men You Meet at Night makes even a teenage boy seem like a threat.

Perhaps the biggest success in The Three Men You Meet at Night is the film’s ability to put the viewer in the shoes of a woman who is faced with men who see her as a means to an end.

third-man

It’s empathy on the screen.

It’s uncomfortable and difficult to watch this girl try to speak the right answer, to do the right thing. But no matter what she says or does, it always leads back to a man’s gaze on her body, his will against hers.

However, the message isn’t everything. In fact, The Three Men You Meet at Night is more than its meaning due to the amazing visuals. At first glance, the film is minimalistic and dark. But as the film continues to play, the colors become more and more vibrant. With a dark street as a blank canvas, The Three Men You Meet at Night weaves in wonderful blues, purples, and reds to contrast and complement its tense scenes.

At just over 12 minutes, The Three Men You Meet at Night is more than worth your time. It’s a great film and an important story that needs to be told now more than ever.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies)

The Three Men You Meet at Night is available on ALTER as an exclusive. Watch it in its entirety below. 

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