Presented by Alter, Kiddo is a new short film that just premiered this past December 29th (on Youtube) and has already racked a fairly sizable watch count in just these first few days. The film was written and directed by Brett Chapman, who has made a number of short films of varying genres over the last decade. The film was produced by Lewis Coates, who did provide me with a screener of the film for review, and probably isn’t Luigi Cozzi. At least, I don’t think so, but I do have a few questions about (Alien) Contamination ready just in case..

Kiddo opens to find its title character sitting on a bus, adorned in a pink jumpsuit, and surrounded by a large number of similarly dressed passengers. The other passengers, all of whom are much younger than Kiddo, are all having a grand time, laughing and singing as they ride. Meanwhile, Kiddo sits quietly by herself, lost in thought. Those thoughts would seem to center on a recent meal that she had in the home of the father and son who are taking turns driving the bus. This flashback (of sorts) provides the first hints that this road trip will not be leading to any petting zoo or amusement park.

It’s a little tough for me to talk too openly or in-depth about Kiddo and some of the plot details, but you can safely expect a grim experience throughout. The film doesn’t reveal a prototypical twist near its conclusion, instead making it apparent early on that things are not what they seem or what our version of reality would lead us to expect. The tension is steadily built by presenting and steadily escalating a scenario that can only end badly, but making the viewer hope that it won’t when they know that it realistically should.

Kiddo features strong performances from all involved, but the weight of the film falls entirely upon the shoulders of its lead, Lisa Howard. While capable of making the audience sympathize with the character, Howard also keeps the character awkward and detached enough to make one wonder if Kiddo (the film and the character) may in fact be an (albeit thinnly veiled) metaphor for something else, something that grounds the situation much more in the world of reality. It’s this somewhat allegorical nature to the presentation that I personally found most compelling, but it may also make Kiddo a little unpalatable for others. There’s no denying that the film touches on themes and topics such as domestication, familial obligation, cruelty (animal and human), and even dietary habits, and I see the potential for some to perceive a “message” from the film that may or may not actually exist. In these regards, I recommend maybe taking Kiddo more at “face value”.

Some of the best praise that I can give a film is that I actually continued to think about it for days after watching it, which honestly isn’t all that common when you consider some of the dreck that I frequently subject myself. Kiddo left me looking at its different angles, or the different ways to interpret its events, and questioning if one view was more valid than the other. For what is only a 15-minute film, I find that to be pretty damn impressive! Of course, you can always watch the film for for yourself at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bjo0POoRdqA&ab_channel=ALTER