A ‘PITCH-DARK’ DIORAMA (2016)

BY BLAINE MCLAREN

Image result for a 'pitch-dark' diorama

The world of film has been an evolving place recently.  As the distribution and method of viewing changes, so does the limitation of choices.  A few years back I never would have been able to see an independent film from Bangalore with just a couple of clicks.  Santosh MP’s ultra-meta thriller (“A ‘Pitch-Dark’ Diorama”) is a unique film that asks some dark questions and never offers any easy answers.  Santosh blends many genres, adding to the mystery and confusion. The film’s primary question is; can you believe in your characters so much (in a story) that they actually die in an alternate reality?

Image result for a 'pitch-dark' dioramaThe story begins with a horror writer who is scouring for the right twist to complete his latest novel, ‘Pitch-Dark’. In alternate realities, the story’s characters (inside of the novel) are living out their own lives and trying to meet their ends.  These separate worlds include an ambitious detective, a controlling director and a “past his prime” author.  We interweave their lives and try to find the truth and explore the concept of fate.

Image result for a 'pitch-dark' dioramaAs convoluted as my description sounds, the film deals with its themes masterfully.  You do spend the first half hour confused, but the confusion only adds to the mystery and payoff.  I watched the film on YouTube and it was broken down into episodes and this may have helped with the transitions from reality to reality.  Towards the end, the film really dives deeper and deeper into its existential quarries and this is where the film shines the most.  We are lead down separate routes and given hints, but when we finally come face-to-face with the “Author” the film explodes into an experimental masterpiece of storytelling.  I know that I am speaking in very vague terms and I do that very intentionally.  Giving away any details or clues would do the film injustice and I suggest watching this movie as blindly as possible.  All in all, if you are looking for something highly original and don’t mind getting more questions than answers, then I suggest checking this movie out right away.  “A ‘Pitch-Dark’ Diorama” is currently available on YouTube and Vimeo in a “pay what you want” format.

DEAD BEAT (2015 Short Film)

Luke Ramer and his team at West 2nd Productions have been busy as hell this year.  They have cranked out two feature films, one anthology segment and one high concept short.  This review is for the latter and (in my humble opinion) is his most accomplished to date.  It is very apparent that these films are made on shoestring budgets, but still manages to convey a very cinematic feel.  There are only a few instances where the budget shows is only really shows when it comes to the sound in a few scenes.  These few aurel shortcomings are easily dismissed, especially when you factor in the camerawork and acting on display.  The effects are brief, but in its painful climax I guarantee you will feel every bit of pain displayed on screen.

The story is very simple, but never feels cliche.  A guitar toting scumbag meets a young lady, sleeps with her and gets her pregnant.  From this point, we find out that already has a child that he rarely sees and quickly gets treated to a dose of his own medicine.

As I said before, nothing feels cheap in this film and I am happy to be able to watch a filmmaker grow and improve.  The story is quick and never lets itself get bogged down by boring, pointless chit-chat.  The director understands that movies are a visual medium and uses what he has to its maximum effect.  What we get is a brisk, squirm inducing ride of come-uppance that any decent person can root for.  Keep an eye out for this up and coming filmmaker and check out some of his earlier work if you like what you see.  Dead Beat is currently available for free on YOUTUBE.  Please click the link below to watch it in its entirety.

4.5/5 STARS