Directed by: #MurphyRhodes
Written by: #MurphyRhodes
You often hear horror stories about for-profit health care systems. Aggressive payment plans, outrageous costs, and over prescribed patients haunt Europeans. Murphy Rhodes’ An Injection A Day is the latest short film from the Liverpudlian film company, XRhodes Films, and it infuses a mundane visit to the GPs with Charlie Brooker style horror.
Our patient, played by Blake McKenzie, just came in for some standard cold meds. His disbelief is palpable when Dr Rice (Kate Benfield) confirms that he actually needs an injection every day for the next five weeks, and the cold meds aren’t just going to cut it. The figure she presents him is eye-watering. Dr Rice’s words drip with the perfect amount of insidious charm, intended to push our main character over the edge. Kate Benfield puts on a fabulously measured performance as a calm, pushy doctor. Within this satire, there are some great nods to a dystopian future outside the doors of the GP’s office, with a radio mentioning that there has been a terrorist incident, resulting in the loss of “27 normal lives”. The dystopian bent is rather thrilling, and a more in-depth exploration of these themes would be fascinating.
Murphy Rhodes’ editing is particularly good. There’s a stark, sudden quality to it. There are Hitchcockian beats of tension, and you are pulled along for the ride. Alongside the excellent editing, the music choices bookending the piece are particularly good, from the jingling carnivalesque first notes to the sudden blaring of No Frills sung by Patrick Murphy. Rhodes knows precisely when to use music, and he’s clever in his restraint. He’s not afraid to have the scene in the doctor’s office only interrupted by the conversation, and this creates an atmospheric piece which becomes more like a horror film.
However, the tonal shifts aren’t handled as aptly. While the conversations in the script are believable and well-written, the short film tosses us across a tonal sea. One moment, An Injection A Day seems to be going for a horror film, then a satirical Black Mirror episode. But then, it changes gear and transforms into a comedy. It didn’t lean into either one or the other, and in something a little longer, these changes in tone wouldn’t have felt so rocky. Unfortunately, in something under five minutes in length, the tone feels especially uneven.
Murphy Rhodes’ An Injection A Day pulls off the Black Mirror undercurrents remarkably well, and it is an engaging watch which plays with thought-provoking ideas. Although you might not want to be prescribed a real injection a day, this short film is the doctor’s orders.