Last year, the world was turned upside down. Retail chains have become the new norm, theaters and movie chains are on the verge of collapse, and the tourism industry has been turned upside down. But despite all this gloom, there are also positives. A good example is short films like Terminus, a 13-minute film that proves that you don’t have to have a big budget to make a film. Instead, it takes a little creativity and good camera work – two elements that abound in this short film.

In its simplest form, Terminus is a film about a young married couple who have separated. Their conversations take place on different wavelengths; subtle cracks of resentment have become deep fissures, leading to an inevitable separation. But there is no yelling and no crazy fights – this film is being made. What remains is a calm and poignant reflection on what could have been.

The couple in question is Shawnee and Sam. Although we are not told the exact reason for their breakup, there are indications that Sam has secrets for Shawnee. The reasoning is not really important, but the film will undoubtedly resonate with all those who have experienced such a breakup.

Recently released on Netflix, Malcolm & Maria presents a fireworks display of action and sophisticated verbal combat. As elegant and well-made as the film is, it still feels like a production. Yet Terminus never seemed staged. Instead, there is something raw in this film that really relies on the idea of regret and quiet reflection, carefully trying to reconstruct where things went wrong in a relationship doomed to fail.

What is particularly impressive is what happens behind the scenes. Over the years, several successful films have been made on a small budget, including The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. Still, according to director Tim Seifert, Terminus wins the prize for working on a zero budget.

Using only what was available and shot in two days in the middle of the COVID pandemic, Terminus managed to do a very good job with limited resources. For that reason alone, the film is worth watching, especially for those interested in how good scene composition can make or break a film.

A few scenes stand out here, sandwiched between most of the drama in the film’s middle. In the foreground, Shawnee and Sam sit at a table and eat together. A partition separates them from the patio door while the clock sits on a shelf. Later, when one of our heroes returns to eat, the clock is gone. Whether intentional or unintentional, it’s a clever visual cue that shows that time is really running out for this couple.

If you’re looking for an action or explosion film, you won’t find it here. Rather, Terminus plays the role of a showcase for what can be made with a very small budget and a little creativity. It won’t be for everyone, but it’s certainly an artistic picture worth watching.

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