Random Check ★★★★★ HollyShorts Film Festival 2023

Random Check ★★★★★ HollyShorts Film Festival 2023

There may not be another film this year that will fill you with as much anger as Monique Sorgen’s Random Check. With a cracking script and performance from Sara AlRoshoud, you will struggle not to become livid at the treatment of her character – A magnificent, horrifying, and depressing look at the bigoted world we still live in.

When Sara, who wears a hijab, arrives on an international flight to San Diego for Comic Con, she is held up for hours by Homeland Security during a “random” check.

Randon Check is a very uncomfortable film to watch. Purposely so, in fact. We are placed in the position of two sisters from Kuwait who are visiting the United States for Comic Con, and solely because Sara wanted to top up her makeup on an airplane toilet, they have to endure harrowing and embarrassing treatment from people who should be keeping everyone safe.

At times you can’t help it; your mouth just hangs there agape as we can only sit and watch as this check continues for far longer and publicly than at all necessary. However, when you delve a little deeper into Random Check, it becomes even more difficult to stomach. We see Haya become rightfully emotional at the treatment she and her sister are getting, showing annoyance at the increasing harassment they experience. Yet, Sara remains calm, smiles, and tries to appease our horrible little shit of a guard.

That sticks with you for a few reasons, but mostly it is because, unlike Haya, Sara is wearing a hijab. She knows she is being targeted and just wants to get on with her trip, but you must imagine her false smile and forced politeness because she had experienced this before and perhaps even first reacted to how Haya did. She has become a veteran of bigotry and goodness; it just crushes you to realise it.

There is a point where this “simple” bag check goes beyond an inconvenience and becomes more of a public shaming of the highest order, and Sara, who has been keeping it cool the entire time, even begins to crack. She knows she is innocent of anything, and if it were any other person who was in that place, then they would have just breezed on by. That point even hits home in the film’s final moments; while picking on someone because of how they dress, Homeland Security could have done something far more positive.

What Sara AlRoshoud has done some cracking work with her script is how real it feels, almost to the point that it has specifically happened to her or people she knows. The film feels too authentic, too demoralising, which is a tragedy in itself. Coupling her excellent script, though, is her performance. Her smile and positive demeanour to placate the guard may be there, but we can clearly see how defeated she is as a person in her eyes. She hoped for the best and got the worst. Her performance is so demoralising for the audience that she must let Jason treat her this way so that she can enjoy herself. We deflate more and more each second the film continues. Phenomenal.

Sandra Saad is put into the position of the audience here in Random Check; she is the one who gets to rant and shout at Jason for his attitude and treatment. Saad does so well here, as we need someone to have that anger and energy to counter how Sara’s calmness. The audience needs an anchor to let them know that this isn’t alright in any fashion, and she allows us to feel it is okay to have that rage within us.

Reid Miller does such a great job as the despicable Homeland Security guard, Jason, that you are almost sure that he would boo the man on sight. Even, throughout the search, his character alters as it doesn’t take long for frustration to come to the fore that there really isn’t anything here. That frustration soon turns to nervousness and desperation. So, he picks on the slightest of errors in paperwork to make himself think he has done something, even if all it does is most likely line his own pockets. It is difficult to play someone so immediately irredeemable like Jason. Just as much as the performances of Saad and AlRoshoud impress you, so does Miller’s, he has to be this terrible for the film to work.

Sorgen’s direction keeps us pinned into this situation, we never get to escape from it. Like our characters we are forced to watch on and deal with it. The odd respite we do get is when we look at other passengers, or those around the gate. You see a mixture of emotions on those faces, none more infuriating that that smirk off the stewardess who caused this. Maybe that is one of the reasons why this all feels all too raw to handle. It is so public, a personal shaming and Sorgen doesn’t allow a moment to get a breathe.

You try to imagine what is going on in Sara and Haya’s heads during Random Check, but really you are thinking about every person who has been wrongly targeted in this manner. They are placed in such an unwelcome position that you cannot imagine how anything during that trip would, of course, correct it. A special shoutout, though, for Sorgen calling a character in the credits Hallway Karen. That popped me a little bit.

Random Check is essential viewing, an important film that highlights a scenario a lot of us are lucky never to have to worry about. Watch it immediately.


The 19th HollyShorts Film Festival is running between 10th – 20th August with in person and digital screenings available through the 10th to 27th August.

For more information go to www.hollyshorts.com

Coverage of HollyShorts Film Festival 2023:


Isla Soledad

In Too Deep


7 Minutes

The After

Swipe NYC

Shadow Brother Sunday

Zita Sempri



Hey Alexa

American Sikh

Spring Roll Dream

Welcome to 8th Street



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