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Navigating the Nightmarish 5150 with actress Effy Han

One of the most frightening scenarios in which one might find themselves is questioning our own perception of what is real and what is supposition. Hitchcock, Kubrick, and other masters of this type of storytelling understood that the confusion between what our mind sees and what is actually happening can simultaneously be veil thin or miles wide. The crime drama film 5150 is rooted in a tragic event that transpires in a psych ward and the subsequent investigation of it. The lynch pin for the characters and the clues to the story’s apex is Dr. Lou, portrayed by award-winning actress (Best Actor – New York, among others) Effy Han. 5150 director Matthew Toronto hand chose Han to play this role based on his need for an actor who could portray the character’s critical physical & mental state. Effy’s embodiment of Dr. Lou is perhaps the high water mark for this production’s ability to conceal the facts while hinting at different “truths.” While quite dark in tone, the film is immensely enjoyable in its unpredictability. 5150 received several nominations including Best Mini Short from the CKF International Film Festival and the Melkbos Short Film Festival.

Like Tosho Matsumoto’s Dogra Magra and Scorsese’s Shutter Island, director Matthew Toronto knows that a psych-ward or mental institution is an excellent way to double down on keeping the certainty of reality away from your main characters…and the audience. 5150 follows two detectives who are investigating a suicide which has occurred at a psych-ward. The officers are tipped off by Dr. Lou (Effy Han) that there may have been more motivation by individuals other than the suicide victim to end his life. Dr. Lou is their best ally in unearthing the truth but the good doctor’s current state may prohibit this. Upon their first meeting, the officers find Dr. Lou wheelchair ridden, suffering from some level of post-trauma, and barely conscious. The physicality with which Effy Han presents Dr. Lou in this scene seems so intuitive and natural that it’s unsettling. Later in the story, when Dr. Lou is injected with some type of drug to achieve lucidity, the conversation and events are pivotal in pointing the audience towards the direction of the real killer. Han admits to doing substantial research on doctors who work in this environment and how the situation Dr. Lou finds herself in might affect her. Effy imparts, “Dr.Lou is a very complicated character and this role presented plenty of challenges. She exhibits a strong moral sense, even being sedated and following a traumatic experience, she is still determined to reveal the truth. Dr. Lou was traumatized by watching a man being burned alive and then realizes that her colleague/friend was the murderer. Following this, she is sedated by that same colleague. I mean, this was a lot going on for one person; definitely more demanding and more dramatic compared to ‘just a normal day’. To be able to carry all of this with me and present it in front of camera was extremely challenging and exciting.”

5150 is full of calculated direction and misdirection, in the most pleasing of ways. The filmmakers and the cast understand that the delayed gratification is what viewers enjoy the most. Cleverness, an abundance of talent, and a dollop of fright-by-proxy combines to make 5150 an elusive and simultaneously impactful mystery.

Written by Patrick Wilson

Navigating the Nightmarish 5150 with actress Effy Han Reviewed by JaamZIN on 8:18:00 AM Rating: 5
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