Dystopia St short film review


★★★

Directed by: #DavidCave

Starring: #DannyShayler, #FreyaParker and #ShaunLavery

Short Film Review by: Shrubaboti Bose


Dystopia St short movie poster

Dystopia St. begins with an urgent message being relayed on a telephone call only to end with the same call, completing an entire cycle. In between the opening and the closing scene, the camera follows the protagonist closely, taking us on a journey through his bizarre life and allowing us to watch him trying desperately to seek an escape from the brutality of his trapped existence. What is it that the director wants to show us? Is there a greater symbol at play here? This movie presents us with an unconventional mode of storytelling that intrigues us and leaves us questioning the significance of each detail that we are invited to witness.


The film alternates between the eye of the camera showing us incidents as the events unfold and then switching to a recorded version of video playing on the television, a kind of peculiar documentation of how the events might further unfold, letting both the protagonist and the audience prepare themselves in advance. However, things never go as calculated, there is a certain unpredictability in the whole maze like situation, some small variable that holds the potential to change the whole sequence of possibilities and thereby result in the consequent chain of actions that lead to the inevitable death of the protagonist.


What is interesting to note is that David chooses to portray dystopia as a sort of mental block that is manifested by a physical sense of imprisonment. The protagonist is trapped within a dingy shack filled with maggots writhing on the rotten and decaying wooden floorboards, he can’t get out of this nightmarish world where he seemingly repeats his own death over and over again in numerous permutations and combinations. All his efforts to find answers are futile as he can’t escape the labyrinth of thoughts and distractions that lead him astray from his “destiny”. He is stuck in a vicious cycle that no matter how much he tries to break away from, he can’t. It is strangely symbolic of a meaninglessness of life.


The movie starts with the dialogue, “To find the answer… keep hold of the key”, a statement metaphorically signifying that finding the key represents the ultimate purpose in life for the man. However, the movie does not end with the protagonist finally finding the key, but instead it ends in media res, while the man is still looking for the key, while he is still engaged in his perpetual search of the meaning in life. Hence, this is a quest narrative that attempts to capture the essence of existentialism and reflects dystopia in the inherent difficulty of merely surviving in a cycle of meaningless lives. For a subject so profoundly philosophical and complicated, this short film makes a nuanced study, bordering the realms of horror and fantasy.



Dystopia St. is available to watch on the UK Film Channel.

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