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Safe Place (2023)

No one wants to end up in jail, but once you're there you expect it to be a Safe Place. For Jerod Draper, a resident of Southern Indiana, that just wasn’t the case. After running into the law again, he finds himself in harm’s way, The worst happens, and Jerod loses his life–now his mother wants justice. Will she find it, or will the mystery of how her son was killed remain intact?

I can remember spending the night at my grandmother’s house numerous times when I was younger and sitting down next to her with a half-gallon of ice cream and watching true crime documentaries. We used to stay up until one or two in the morning watching these horrific stories play out, and while I enjoyed the time with my grandmother, I can remember thinking that these episodes about mystery and death lasted far too long, and I often struggled to remain focused throughout. Safe Place exists in the same vein as those crime shows I used to watch, but Director Samuel-Ali Mirpoorian shortens it to a very accessible nineteen minutes. That’s the first step in finding Safe Place success–and Mirpoorian accomplishes it. He condenses what likely could have been a much longer film, and that allowed me to remain focused throughout.

With Mirpoorian shortening the length of his film, each and every second of Safe Place has purpose, pulling in viewers, and giving them a reason to stick around until the final moments.

I think there’s always a split second in these documentaries when viewers struggle to connect with the individuals on screen–particularly ones like this where the victim is someone who has constantly had run-ins with the law. Safe Place is framed in a way, however, that allows viewers to instantly understand the person Jerod was before he turned to a life of drugs. Viewers see home videos of him as a child, and we are quickly introduced to his mother–making the connection between Jerod and viewer significantly stronger than in many of these other crime docs. Once again Mirpoorian makes a stellar decision in regard to the development of Safe Place–and I believe that this decision opens the film up to a much wider audience.

Safe Place is forceful in its approach. To a degree that’s not great for the film, as viewers often like to play along during films and shows of this nature. However, with a film this short, I’m not sure that viewers have time to play along, or that they really have time to fully form opinions until after it has concluded–and in that regard being so forceful is a great choice. Once again, Mirpoorian seems to know just what this film needs, and he creates a product that reaches viewers in a series of ways.

Safe Place hits all the right notes, it pulls viewers in early, and it keeps them engaged throughout the duration. The emotion present in the individuals on screen entices viewers, and it allows them to fully understand the severity of the things that happened to Jerod. There’s no disconnect, and Mirpoorian uses simplicity to reach viewers from beginning to end.

Directed by Samuel-Ali Mirpoorian.



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