Directed by: #RobHurtt
Written by: Rob Hurtt
No seriously, Rob Hurtt’s short film Come Outside is some bizarre surrealist imagery that feels more like weird than the sake of weird than any grander artistic storytelling. Although it can be reversed engineered to be something about birth, reincarnation, life or some strange conception of all three, it seems Hurtt is just throwing whatever imagery he can to overwhelm the audience. Initially, everything seems to be very Lynchian with Eric Colvin’s Noel awaking in a red room and listening to strange messages from novelty phones shaped like red lips. From there it just gets stranger and stranger as Noel is visited by a grisly butcher doing a Bugs Bunny impression, Noel experiences visions of a life lived, a life destroyed with more destructive imagery including alcoholism, violence and a nuclear bomb detonation.
The imagery seems to feed back into this theme of life, the opening shot featuring a quote from Oscar Wilde on how life begins, the issue with Come Outside is how off-putting and disengaging the imagery works within the film. There’s no grounding to Noel’s story, we start with him in a strange place, bombarded by confusion and non-sensical audio and visuals. At times it feels Hurtt’s use of surrealism is more because it “looks cool” not because it serves a story, like a misguided cinematic Rorschach test, hoping the wide berth of symbolism will trigger something in the audience. However, they are left more confounded than moved by the time the film ends, not understanding the point and those that do piece this together aren’t remotely impressed by the handling of themes.
The rough style doesn’t help matters either as it’s clear Hurtt wants to emulate more avant-garde styles of filmmaking but doesn’t attempt to inject any slick style or insight of these techniques into his film. Come Outside has an awkward cobbled together feel to the editing, making all the outlandish elements come across as desperate pretension rather than any thought-provoking analogy. The film alienates the audience from how it presents its peculiar reality because there is no innovation in the filmmaking to make the possible themes resonate. Come Outside doesn’t speak to grander ideas of life just more like a forgettable, strange interpretation of questions that have had far more thought put into them by other storytellers.
The film thinks it’s a deep, biting examination of life itself and that’s where it falls apart, being confusing and weird doesn’t immediately give the visuals meaning and the arrogance is rife throughout. There is something buried within the film but Hurtt’s direction and vision are more focused on the style than the substance.