Directed by: #PhilipBrocklehurst
Here we have another made-during-COVID short feature, this time a Russian/English co-production from the minds of Philip Brocklehurst and Alex Wesley titled I’m God. This eight-minute-long piece – filmed in part by Brocklehurst at his home and in part by Wesley at his studio in Russia – sets out to explore mental illness, as a dangerously disturbed individual takes brutal revenge on the doctor who had him committed to an asylum. Some big ideas are floated around here, perhaps too big. Because no matter what, Brocklehurst and Wesley can just never quite make it work.
The film begins with an unspeakable act of violence: hidden behind closed doors, we get shielded from actually having to witness the brutal murder. Instead, the filmmakers force us to listen on helplessly as it unfolds; this is far worse. These opening moments, while not without their share of problems, are incredibly striking and disturbing. Where this moment loses its edge slightly is in the poor delivery of its already weak dialogue and subpar visual and sound fidelity - all issues which plague the film throughout.
In tone, also, the film’s inconsistent. A horror-inflected opening sequence soon gives way to a self-narrated, internal monologue. A self-confession (complete with gruesome flashbacks scenes) which serves as a kind of psychological study, and in which Brocklehurst (as “God”) attempts to justify the horrific crime he’s just committed. It’s unsettling and grim, and it fits the dour atmosphere Brocklehurst and Wesley so ably create near the beginning. So far, so good. But, lurking in the background, there’s this ever-present impression that you’re being led towards a punchline. A punchline this movie neither needs nor complements, but which inevitably comes anyway, in an ill-judged spark of “humour” towards the film’s end.
Of course, there are things the movie does really well, too. Wesley’s practical effects – on display during the flashback as mentioned earlier scene – are superb and suitably gruesome, while Brocklehurst’s physical performance is on point. And, as an examination of mental illness, this is an intriguing piece of work; one that desperately needed more time and care to allow it to flourish.
Many of the film’s problems could well be due, at least in part, to the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m not sure, but I’ve seen enough of Brocklehurst’s films to know he’s capable of creating much better things. In the end, I’m God presents some genuinely exciting and bold ideas that, had they been given more time, might easily have made for compelling viewing. Sadly, in the end, that ambition, along with its rushed nature, leave this piece feeling like a huge mess.