Combustible Celluloid
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With: Murisa Harba, Timothy Ryan Cole, Charlotte Beckett
Written by: Daria Nazarova
Directed by: Daria Nazarova
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 77
Date: 08/09/2021

The Shattering (2021)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Mommy Brain

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A feature writing and directing debut by Daria Nazarova, who was born in the former USSR and is now based in Los Angeles, The Shattering (formerly titled Morok) is an excellent drama with thriller-y elements, frequently tense, but the tenseness is formed fully from the emotions within the story. There's nothing supernatural going on, just life and its various turns.

It takes place over several shifting timelines, but in the main one — designated by an onscreen digital clock — Claire (Murisa Harba) awakens early, a little after 6 a.m. Her husband Eric (Timothy Ryan Cole) still slumbers heavily. She checks on their baby, makes some coffee (being careful to cover the bean-grinding noise with a couple of pillows), and pads around the house, before discovering a long hair that doesn't seem to be hers.

She panics, and goes through a whole process of getting into Eric's phone, where she sees troubling texts. She calls her mother, then decides that it's actually her hair, and goes back to getting ready for her day. In various other puzzlebox timelines, Claire goes through bouts of not speaking to Eric, visiting with a therapist, Monica (Charlotte Beckett, All the Money in the World), and arguing with and/or trying to make up with Eric.

It's clear that something is wrong in Claire's world, and with her tight screenplay, Nazarova does a wonderful job of keeping things out of reach and continuously unfolding. (Even if you can deduce what's wrong, the movie still keeps a grip on you.) Technically, it's everything a low-budget film should be. The performances are solid, and the sound is professional (poor sound quality can sink an indie movie faster than anything else).

The compact use of space, just a single house, an office in a few scenes, and only three characters, is further inspired. The movie can feel a little slight due to its 77-minute running time, but it nevertheless feels exactly the right length. It's available for digital purchase or rental anywhere you purchase or rent films, and it's available to stream for free (with ads) on

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