Friday, March 31, 2017

As They Continue To Fall

Today's short film is called As They Continue To Fall.

I'm going to be honest, right away, hate the title. It looks like it should be an album title for a NuMetal band from Iowa, the type where the lead singer girl still wears a cloth choker and velvet babydoll dresses with combat boots, and the rest of the band wears "scary" masks. It sounds like the type of self-published novel you could buy at the on-line Hot Topics store, one where an "artist" friend of the author has hand-drawn the cover. It feels like it was intended to be read aloud in a extremely meaningful voice to a circle of teens sitting in a basement with all of the curtains drawn, and all of them badly smoking clove cigarettes. I would assume there's a fake skull on the table somewhere close by. In a word, it sounds super lame.

But... I'm not going to let that initial reaction taint my response.

This film was directed by Nikhil Bhagat and written by C. Robert Cargill. Bhagat has done a couple of short films and, surprisingly, for a Short Film Director, he has done zero work in a visual effects department. That's unexpected. Cargill has written the movies Sinister 1 and 2, which I haven't seen, and the Doctor Strange film, which was pretty good. I enjoyed it quite a bit. He also used to write for the website Ain't It Cool under the name Massawyrm, which was a geek/genre/pop culture news site that was huge over a decade ago, and still looks exactly the same today.

I bet the C stands for Commandant.

Here's the synopsis: An aging drifter hunts fallen angels in a desolate city. Society may have turned its back on him, but that doesn't stop him from moving forward in his endless search for fallen angels.

That's kind of an oddly written synopsis for a film that is supposedly about a homeless dude with a rifle hunting down fallen angels. Let's see what we've got here...

I liked bits and pieces.

First off, it looked good. The designs were cool-looking. It was well shot. But mostly, the film felt kind of half-baked. After watching this, I assume it was a specific couple of cool images--the idea of the bum on the roof with his grungy old rifle, and probably the scene from the old Hellblazer comic where John Constantine cuts off the angel's wings--that were the main inspiration for this film,. I say this, because the whole sequence from the rooftop sniper shot to the alleyway de-winging all felt very focused, and everything after that felt like a bunch of second thoughts and add-ons.

The bum's motivation for hunting the angels? Wafer thin. And weirdly petty. It also felt completely unnecessary. Then the ending turned out to be not so much a climax as a slow slide to a stop. The angels show up, presumably for revenge, but say nothing and do nothing, and then leave. What power did the bum have, and why? Is he special? There's nothing established as to why the angels would fear him without his rifle. Was the knife special?

I don't know. The film doesn't tell us.

The film also doesn't tell us what the noises were supposed to be that he hears at the end. What were the angels doing? Tripping? Falling down stairs? Or was his last line just a joke? Without understanding what the noises were, I have no idea what he's rolling his eyes about. It's a weird beat to end the film on. It's played like we're all supposed to share a chuckle, but I have no idea why.

In the end, I think there's too much focus on things that don't matter, and not enough on things that do. There wasn't enough focus on the specific story they wanted to tell. Maybe a little more time would've helped the film out? Maybe? It's only six minutes long. I don't know. What I do know is, once again, it seems like the temptation to draw a larger world, and all for the vague idea of some benevolent studio god bestowing a franchise upon them, ended up hampering the short film that was the only vehicle they had to sell the idea in the first place. Ambition, it appears, is the bullet that most often shoots the genre short film creator in the foot.


But at least there's a couple of cool posters. Too bad shit like this wasn't actually in the film...

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