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Out Beyond (2023)

-Written by Kyle Bain


Ahmed (Hassan Raza), a teenager with an affinity for drumming, has to hide his passion from his unsupportive family. As he hides in the bathroom, pretending to play the drums in solitude, he drifts off to another place, one steeped in potential and joy, Out Beyond the limits of his current situation. 

To start, Out Beyond is a stellar film–hitting every note beautifully from beginning to end. From sound design to cinematography and acting to set design, not a second of Out Beyond fails to enthrall–and I enjoyed every bit of this short film. 

The set design is simple–with the entire film taking place in an old, semi-run down bathroom with stained walls. It mirrors the harsh reality that surrounds Ahmed, and as the film kicks off we are instantly transported to Ahmed’s world, connecting with him, now able to appreciate his every move throughout the course of Out Beyond. As we are pulled further and further into Ahmed’s narrative, Director of Photography Jaffar Raza Jafri captures his every movement with deliberate close up shots. Jafri’s expertise with the camera makes us feel as if we are part of the story, that we, too, are experiencing the exhilarating nature of Ahmed’s music. As Ahmed begins to play the imaginary drums that exist in his bathroom we are pulled in so close that, for a split second, we believe that he’s been transported somewhere else, to a place where he can live out his dreams, where he can find success doing the one thing that he loves more than anything else. We are quickly brought back to reality, we again feel the harsh sting of Ahmed’s troubled existence. Without ever uttering a word throughout Out Beyond Ahmed is fully understood as a result of both the set design and the stunning cinematography. 

What impressed me the most about Out Beyond, however, is the sound design (and the accompanying editing that made the sound so brilliant and effective). We’ve established that Ahmed doesn’t actually play the drums in the film, but he plays the air drums–and the sound as he swings his drumsticks through the air is paired perfectly with those movements. Again, we are quickly led to believe that he is living out his dream for real, immersed in his world through the visuals and now the sound. Piece by piece Out Beyond comes together, further enticing viewers as it progresses. 

As he exits the bathroom, he leaves the door open ever so slightly–symbolizing the potential for him to find success and happiness in the future. This is such a simple touch, a minor detail that wouldn’t have been missed had Writer-Director Salman Alam Khan decided to leave it out (or hadn’t thought of it at all), but its significance is massive, brilliantly closing out Out Beyond in a way that’s upbeat, perfectly mirroring some sentiments while effectively juxtaposing others. 

Out Beyond is damn near perfect, inviting us into the world of Ahmed within seconds of it beginning, and keeping us engaged until it fades to black. I’m so impressed by what Khan, Jafri, and the rest of the team are able to develop in such a short amount of time. A beautiful film, Out Beyond will entertain all. 

Written & Directed by Salman Alam Khan. 

Starring Hassan Raza, etc.



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