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Categories: Movie Reviews

Skeet Ulrich’s new short film “The Girl on the Roof”, funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign, is a mind-bending psychological thriller about a young girl trying to face her fears at school and home. 

The Girl on the Roof, a short film directed by Scream star Skeet Ulrich, is a promising directorial debut. Centered around the experiences of a young girl, Lila, who is bullied at school and unloved at home, the film progresses from striking drama to gripping suspense thriller in 25 minutes of intense and creative filmmaking. 

It’s a family affair for Ulrich in this production, with his daughter Naiia playing the lead role of Lila and his wife Amelia Jackson-Gray, who also wrote the film, also starring as Lila’s nanny. Both seem well-suited to their roles, even though the dialogue is a little patchy in parts.

GOTR1

Naiia Ulrich is strong as the center of the film, a troubled, honest girl who find solace on her rooftop as she writes her thoughts into her diary. Often left to be looked after by her nanny and her drunken stepfather (Todd Lowe), Lila is neglected by her mother (Susan May Pratt). She has it just as bad at school, followed by a villainous group of bully girls, who follow Lila robotically throughout the day.

The cinematography is especially impressive in the opening scenes. Ulrich opts for intricate long takes as opposed to quick cuts, adding to the suspense and the mystique surrounding the titular “girl on the roof”. The camera follows Lila for practically the whole movie, moving as she does to create the effect that she is controlling her world. This view is challenged as the film progresses. 

The climactic event of the film is Lila’s exchange with a thief (Lennie James) who attempts to convince her of her importance after he spots her crying on the roof after a particularly bad day. The film then takes a more confusing route, playing with our perceptions of reality and getting significantly darker. I enjoy the mysterious lighting and trippy visuals, but do we need more twists for the sake of twists?

Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 10.59.38 AM

Despite the disappointing (or, at least, unnecessarily confusing) ending, The Girl on the Roof is an admirable project from first-timer Ulrich. Produced from a budget of $12,471 raised from a $3,000, it definitely exceeds the expectations of its small budget with a strong cast, excellent cinematography and a superb soundtrack. The sound editing is especially impressive. 

The Girl on the Roof has been doing the festival circuit and will hopefully gain a wider release some time in the future. I’m excited to see what Ulrich and Jackson-Gray come up with next. You can follow the film here: http://www.thegirlontheroof.com/

3 stars out of 4. 

By Cameron Johnson, interim Editor of The Spread. 

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Posted on Jan 1, 2015

One Response to ““The Girl on the Roof” is a solid first film for Skeet Ulrich”
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  1. Avatar Andrea says:

    This is a great shortfilm! Great acting, great writing, great directing, great cinematography! Look for it at the festivals and when it’s out on DVD. Stay posted on the film on twitter and facebook! 🙂

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