“Stop walking me home”

Making its rounds through underground film festivals, Honey Lau

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>‘s Dot Got Shot brings a relevant psychological punch with its ultra low-budget aesthetic. The acting is not the greatest and the cinematography choices may be a bit too artsy at times, but the story of Dot—a decorated policewoman haunted by the nightmares of reliving the moment she was shot in the head breaking up a domestic squabble—is unique enough to overcome its faults. Written, co-directed with Carlos Ramos Jr., and starring Lauren, the short crime drama finds itself going somewhere you wouldn’t necessarily expect.

Crossing between horrific memory and real life, we see early on how erratic Dot has become after receiving the lead souvenir lodged in her skull. Crying profusely once awoken from the recurring dream of that afternoon, her composure at a crime scene is strange considering it’s bad enough to cause partner Steph (Steph DuVall) to think he’ll be sick. Looking at the obliterated remains of their victim, all Dot can think about is a craving for Italian food—a dry joke that may or may not be a testament to her appetite. Walking home after dinner brings forth a rage blackout of temper and before she knows it she’s yelling at a couple engaging in PDA on the sidewalk.

Suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), it’s a wonder Dot is even in the field while the stitches are still embedded with her flesh. The physical pain of the gunshot and the emotional anguish of watching her girlfriend end their relationship after is taking its toll, yet she hides it well enough to keep moving, crack jokes, and try to leave it all behind. This hope for normalcy, however, flies out the window when she enters a convenience store by her apartment that seconds later becomes the scene of an armed robbery. Hiding behind a shelf of processed food, Dot waits for her opportunity to be the heroic officer of the law she knows she can be.

Looking past the shoddy performances, one does need to take note of the cinematic skill used in putting it all together. With a showcase tracking shot down a narrow alleyway mimicking a first-person view for Dot meeting up with Steph at the homicide, the cropping of certain close-ups and overall camerawork does captivate with framing and vibrant colors when not overly flashy. For an underground piece, the production value is somewhat staggering—complete with a perfectly placed “She’s Not There” by The Zombies for its dénouement. Give Lauren and company credit for making the film look as good as it does with successful choices like subtle make-up effects and gore rather than over-the-top, amateurish excess.

The real draw to the film, however, comes from its memorable conclusion chock full of amorality and unanswered questions. Dot getting shot may have left a few more dangerous and lasting effects than just the sleepless nights. The final moments with robber Jeff Blumberg caught in the crosshairs of her gun trigger an impulse that may prove her reactions to the dead body earlier more important than previously thought. And with a carefully placed t-shirt on the loverboy in the street contextually saying “Take Me All the Way Home”, one also has to wonder if what we’re watching is real or the manifestations of a broken person lost in the dark recesses of a fractured mind.

Dot Got Shot 6/10 | ★ ★ ½

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Buffalo Niagara Film Festival by M. Faust