This film will blow you away … so hold on to your seat!

by Martin Hafer

I attended the Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival recently and saw a lot of amazingly good independent films. Most of the films I chose to see were shorts and I already wrote an article with about a dozen or so of my favorites. However, I am devoting this article to one … a film that is very special and which I am wholeheartedly recommending you see.

Before Sirens and one other film were shown, the festival organizers made an announcement that they were going to clear the theater of folks under 18 and anyone who didn’t want to watch an ‘adult’ film should consider leaving. This scared the life out of me as I am not a fan of overly-violent films and the announcement made it sound like we might be watching pornography! My fears were groundless as neither film was gratuitous nor had any nudity. But violence…yes there were a few difficult scenes to watch. However, despite my feelings about film violence, I am so glad I stayed. But I wouldn’t let small kids watch Sirens…teens, perhaps…but not kids.

The story is about a struggling mother, Sarah (Phyllis Spielman). Her job as a nurse is rewarding and she’s literally a life saver, but she needs far more money than she could ever save from this job. So, despite it being a sleazy joint, Sarah also works at a local strip club as a pole dancer. Her ballet skills are considerable and she uses them, along with her body, to earn money. But even that isn’t enough money to enable her to pay for the expensive cochlear implant surgery her young daughter needs to restore her hearing. After begging her boss for extra hours, he offers her a proposition whereby she can earn lots of money … by ‘entertaining special guests’ at the club. It’s demeaning and awful, but Sarah feels she has no choice. Reluctantly, this working mother agrees … and what comes next simply shocked me, but in a good way. I’ll say no more as I don’t want to spoil the suspense.

Phyllis Spielman

Why did I love this film so much? Joey Spillane did an absolutely amazing job writing a script with tons of surprises and emotion and his direction was perfect. Rarely have I felt as emotionally overwhelmed as I saw the film and it felt almost as if my heart was about to burst. Now that’s amazing direction and writing! As for Phyllis Spielman, she also completely blew the audience away as she was gorgeous but also very, very talented in this demanding role. What was even more amazing is when I spoke with her after the film concluded. It turns out that this lady only recently decided to try out acting, and this coincided with one of her kids going off to college! Talk about an unusual story–so unusual that I’ll be interviewing her in a future article. And, there’s a lot more to it.

The bottom line is that if you like action and suspense, I cannot imagine a film packing in more of either into only 24 minutes. By the time the picture ends, I was both physically and emotionally spent! See this film…you won’t be sorry.