'A Cohort of Guests': Short film featuring 'Grey's Anatomy' stars offers a lesson on the power of kindness
Starring 'Grey's Anatomy' stars Sarah Drew, Kelly McCreary, and Jake Borelli, the film is a slice of realization that hits hard right where it is supposed to
Short film 'A Cohort of Guests' does what many full-length movies cannot. It shows how just one kind word or gesture can make a mammoth difference. Without a gunshot, it overpowers violence and is a lesson on the power of kindness.
Directed by Todd Sandler, the film begins on a joyful note but soon takes a sudden twist. A group of friends enjoy a casual summer dinner party until they are shockingly interrupted by an unexpected guest.
Starring 'Grey's Anatomy' stars Sarah Drew, Kelly McCreary and Jake Borelli, 'The Good Doctor' actress Jasika Nicole and '13 Reasons Why' actor Danielle Savre and 'Dead To Me' star Brandon Scott, the film is a slice of realization that hits hard right where it is supposed to.
The best thing about the movie is its storytelling ability — how it outsmarts the audience when they think they have it all figured out.
The conversation between the pals is cut short when they spot a man hiding in the dark. As the unidentified man uncloaks himself out of the dark, he points a gun at the bunch.
"Give me your money, do it fast, now," he orders. While the group doesn't have cash on them, they do hand over all of their expensive phones and watches.
In the awkwardness of the moment, one of them utters, "We were just having a good time with our friends." The burglar seems outraged and clicks his gun. Trying to be brave, Meg asks if he wants to join the group. Pouring a little wine in a glass, she offers it to him.
Hesitant initially, he takes it but still has the aim intact. She pours some more wine and he loosens up a bit. Aiming at different people, he is unsure what to do and is soon taken aback when he hears sounds on the baby monitor and starts to shiver.
He doesn't say a word but his face reads how he longs for belonging and comfort, how badly he wishes to be among friends and family.
"In the absence of love and belonging, there is always suffering." The words leave a tinge of sorrow in your heart, don't they? Such is the irony of human relationships. A soul that hasn't been nurtured is the one that suffers the most and love is the only salvation to heal them.
McCleary and Nicole put on their best act in the film. Borelli's performance, even with a face behind those nerd glasses and barely any dialogues, is a delight to watch!
Inspired by a true event, the short movie is based on a story developed by Todd Sandler and Alexa Gilker. At the core, it is essentially the plot that stands out.
Shedding light on his inspiration, Sandler says, "It is one of those stories that seems impossible to be true — that someone could so radically shift their perspective that they could see an intruder as a guest."
"It feels unbelievable, and yet, it supposedly happened somewhere to a friend of a friend. To me, this story is proof that it is possible to 'flip the script' on a typical reaction to hostility, even in the midst of fear," Sandler shares.
"Each morning I wake up and read what's going on across this country and in all parts of the world, and I get an overwhelming feeling of dread and disappointment," he says.
"Will we ever live in a world that is not ruled by a culture of fear and hostility? With such opposing sides increasingly hardened in their beliefs, how will we ever see eye to eye again? And is there any goodness left at all?"
"These questions are what fuel my creative mission to disrupt the negativity we are all constantly consuming by sharing stories that deal with themes of compassion, kindness and empathy," Sandler adds.
"Essentially, I want to challenge viewers to shift their perspective from one of hopelessness and die-hard partisanship to one of hope, understanding, and openness," he continues.
"The brave ones who react towards hostility not only with grace but with an invitation to the relationship are the ones I believe are going to change our world and the state of our country," he adds.
Director of photography, Nick Mahar, makes quite a revelation as the cinematography beautifully blends dark and light tones. With executive producers Kevin Alejandro, Leslie Alejandro and Dani DeJesus on board, the short movie is written by Alexa Gilker. It premieres on December 10, 2019, and you can watch it here.