Monday, April 30, 2012

Watching Out for "We Are What We Eat:" A Short Film Review

Director/writer: Sam Toller.

Cast: Lucy Joyce, Zak Ozturk, Roland Bearne, Lucy Berry, and Chris Bearne.

To those foodies who remember the notion that in order to be fit and healthy, you need to eat good grub—the same rule applies to zombies too. But in this case, maybe people should be careful in where they get their food and education. With a movie title like "We Are What We Eat," maybe high school cafeteria food should come with a Surgeon’s General warning!

In a film made by a newcomer to the scene, British educated Sam Toller certainly shows plenty of storytelling talent behind the scenes. He crafted a brilliant zombie tale that challenges viewers to wondering whose nightmare they are truly watching.

Also, this 16-year old director shows some of that original George Romero charm in crafting his ten-minute short. This film saw its international premiere at the 2012 National Film Festival for Talented Youth in Seattle April 27th.

Toller most likely recruited some of his best mates and school chums to work on this film. And perhaps he is also injecting some criticism towards how the school system is run too. That impression is noticable when considering how totalitarian the teacher (Chris Bearne) is towards both Nicole (Lucy Joyce) and Karl (Zak Ozturk). They show up to their last class of the day late.

There are moments where Karl could have taken off his thick-rimmed glasses and tell off the teacher, but he does not. His casual flippant attitude (and an excellent moment from Ozturk) lands him in trouble. He has to do detention and he sits down to possibly take a nap.

That leaves time for the food he had during lunch to fester. The fade to black also indicates a change of perspective. While Nicole goes off to do some photography, the two do not meet until later. An extra scene could have helped indicate a passage of time, but when the two see each other again at a trail by the woods, something went wrong. Nicole is later seen carrying a bloodied tree stump. Did she whack Karl upside the head or was someone else walloped before she decided to stumble home? Had that action involved Karl, he looked fine the next day.

The jumps in narrative seemingly undermine the charm of this movie when it is viewed for the first time, but they are intentional. While the introduction is carefully crafted, only one awkward film edit interrupts this flow. The rest of the film moves like when anyone is experiencing a terrible nightmare.

No dream is ever sequential. What is experienced is typically chaotic. When considering that the camera perspectives change from third person to first as the point of view, this tale becomes a fitting look into Nicole’s nightmare … but is it? Zombies appear out of the woodwork to attack the teacher and her. When considering how Karl felt in the intro, maybe the whole vision is his. Audiences will never truly know.

Both Toller and cinematographer Stuart Dye do an excellent job in not telling whose world viewers are exploring. Had viewers have known, the fun would not be as exciting. From the first frame onwards, where Nicole is running down an endless corridor to last, the shifting perspectives keep viewers on edge, and guessing.

Even when the camera goes oblique to indicate a shift back to the sleeping world, the realms start to collide. But as for which world is what, that’s one that only Toller knows. This director revealed to the Hornsey Journal that a fair bit of time was spent storyboarding. This detail is required if this visionary is to delve into the psychometry of dreams.

As for where it ends, like how the movie begins, is by exploring another person’s nightmare. When compared to what the other zombies look like early on in the film, the last one is simply gorgeous to behold. Kudos go to the excellent makeup job done. And when zombie hunger knows no bounds, long teeth make for a great set of fork and knives!

Overall: 7.5 out of 10.

A Trailer for this production can be found here:

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