The Missing Hand

Rated: Not Rated

        When it comes to independent films I feel like shorts allow for the most when it comes to creativity and originality. I’ve talked a lot lately about how I’m in awe of the fact that filmmakers can fit a complete story, including depth of character, into a film as short as a minute (and sometimes even less than that), but what I haven’t talked much about is the sheer variety available in short films. I’ve found that it’s fairly important to mostly ignore the genre classifications of any given short film. Sites like ask filmmakers to choose a genre, or several, when creating their film’s page, and in most cases, what I’ve found is that the limited examples given on sites like this can hardly correctly classify a given short film.
        Let me give you a few examples of what I mean. The short
A Bad Luck Guy in a Bad Luck Town is labeled as a fantasy on, but I’d say it’s a noir-comedy-drama type film, since it includes elements of each.  The short film Annulment is listed as a comedy, but it’s definitely a horror and romantic film as well. The short Split Costs is listed as a drama, but I’d also throw in adventure, at the very least. And The Morning of Everything is labeled as an adventure drama, but it’s so whimsical and poetic that it defies labels altogether. The genre labels given to each of the above films do little more than make them easier to search for, but these limited selections certainly don’t and can’t fully encapsulate what these or any short films are really about.
        Another great example is the recent short film from filmmaker Daniel Harding and his company 23 ½ Films,
The Missing Hand. The film is labeled as a comedy, but there is so much more to it. Elements of mystery, action, crime thriller and drama are all included within the 7:06 minute runtime. The 23 ½ Films website summarizes the film, “An unlikely duo must decide what to do with a severed hand they find on a plot of land they intend to build on.” I couldn’t have described it better myself; yet, that doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of this complicated little film.
Meryl Griffiths and Neil James looking at The Missing Hand (Photo courtesy of Daniel Harding)

Meryl Griffiths and Neil James looking at The Missing Hand (Photo courtesy of Daniel Harding)

        To begin with there is Ms. Whitman, played by Meryl Griffiths. Ms. Whitman is a developer interested in the plot of land on which the hand is found. It’s immediately clear that she’s been in tough situations before, and has probably come through them unscathed. If Ms. Whitman were real, I think the term “cool as a cucumber” would have come into being because of her. At no point during the events that unfold over the course of the film does she lose her cool and levelheadedness, whereas anyone else would be in a full panic.
        Which brings us to Trevor the contractor, played by Neil James.  Trevor seems to be onboard with whatever Ms. Whitman suggests, that is, until they find the missing hand. After that he acts as any normal human being would; he begins to panic and bungle his way through the odd and tense situation he finds himself in. According to an interview published on
The Missing Hand’s website, Neil James would describe Trevor as, “…A nice guy who just wants an easy life. He wants to do the right thing but allows himself to be corrupted by the lure of a quick payday. Throughout the film he seems to be constantly wrestling with his conscience with mixed results. The really interesting thing about playing Trevor was that he is plunged into an adventure with a very unlikely partner in Ms. Whitman. She’s very different from the type of person Trevor would normally spend time with, plus she has the upper hand in their relationship. Meryl [Griffiths] and I clicked very early on in rehearsals, and I think that was an important factor to [our] onscreen dynamic. We felt comfortable playing characters that don’t particularly like each other.”
Meryl Griffiths and Neil James Decide What to Do Next in The Missing Hand (Photo courtesy of Daniel Harding)

Meryl Griffiths and Neil James Decide What to Do Next in The Missing Hand (Photo courtesy of Daniel Harding)

        It is the onscreen dynamic between the actors that makes
The Missing Hand such a provocative, captivating and fascinating film. The storyline is written in such a skillful and intelligent way as to leave many of the mysteries intact by the end, which makes it all the more entertaining. I asked filmmaker Daniel Harding a few questions pertaining to the mysteries that went unsolved by the end of the film, but I didn’t come away with much. He said, “I like keeping [things] a mystery. I know the answer[s], and there are little clues in the story, but I don’t want to out rightly say what I think has happened. It’s up to the audience to decide their own back story.” It’s clear that Harding likes to play his cards close to the chest, but that just makes the film all the more engaging. The Missing Hand is just one of those clever little films that will leave you with more questions than answers, but in a good way.

The Missing Hand is not rated, was written, directed and so much more by Daniel Harding and stars Meryl Griffiths, Neil James, Joseph Emms and Radley Mason. It is currently being entered into film festivals both in the UK and internationally.

       More information about The Missing Hand and 
23½ Films can be found at: