Short Film ‘Reset’ is the Perfect Example of Sci-fi Mystery Storytelling

Watch this short film before you read any more of these words. Seriously. You’ll enjoy it far more when you don’t know what to expect.

I love how Reset sustains its science fiction mystery. The moment that little girl gets hold of the letters, expectations are flipped. Why did the mother lie to her? What do these numbers mean? Where is this film even set?

The film’s tone also takes a worthwhile shift at this moment. With its audience lost in a fog of WTFness, the suspense goes for the pincer manoeuvre with a swirling warp in the music. It then cuts the score off entirely to give you some time to think about this. Just when you piece together a possible explanation, BAM, the mother switches off, the girl discovers a temporal loop, and some creepy Annabelle doll gives her some oddly specific instructions.

This is the crux of what makes Reset so good. It’s a sci-fi mystery that makes you question its reality. Right when you think you have an answer, it puts your assumption through a shredder with an overwhelming load of new information. It then does this AGAIN with a conclusion that forces you to reset your thinking on the film’s entire universe. By not giving you any direct answers, the film sticks with you long after its 15-minute running time.

Sure, it’s derivative of The Matrix like 87% of science fiction out there and the girl in the lead role shows an annoying lack of urgency in a fairly urgent scenario. But looking past those minor setbacks, it’s startling what the filmmakers achieved with a single location and only two key visual effects shots.

With this short film, directors Marcus Kryler and Fredrik Åkerström earned a ‘Go Directly To Hollywood’ card and worked as cinematic directors for Battlefield 1. The pair is currently directing Zoe Saldana in upcoming black-ops assassin thriller Hummingbird.

Many legendary feature film directors started with successful sci-fi shorts. Some have even gone back to make a few more partway through their careers. Show Me Shorts recently highlighted the short sci-fi films of Neill Blomkamp, George Lucas, and Spike Jonze (read it here).