Directed by: Jim Dethick
Written by: #JimDethick
Obscure and surrealist cinema from filmmaker Jim Dethick, The Newt-Man of Memory Lane is a short film that revels in the bizarre. From its characters to its sound and visuals, audiences are submerged into an eccentric folk horror story that is creative, poetic and at times unnerving.
David Robinson plays Keith Hoon-Fox, a man on a mission to find the legendary Newt-Man, a mysterious and potentially lethal figure who roams the landscape with a trumpet. To try and describe the plot any more would potentially spoil. It would also assume I fully understood what transpired when I watched the short film which would be an almighty fib. I am still grappling with the storyline and cannot fully fathom most of what was being shown.
Certain visuals have been burned into my brain, however, in particular the final sequence which I won't spoil but can say it was mesmerising and distressing all at the same time.
Dethick manages to create a short movie that balances dark with intrigue very well. It is obviously going to be a divisive piece but it would be unfair to say that The Newt-Man of Memory Lane was not, at the very least, a fascinating and ambitious composition of #filmmaking. The frenetic editing is efficiently perturbing, keeping the viewer in a semi-nightmarish state throughout, whilst the often arresting visuals of Robinson in the Yorkshire and Derbyshire countryside are quite magnificent to watch.
The use of #blackandwhite for certain sequences is always a controversial artistic choice and in this case a suitable one. The folklorish nature of the tale and the vague time references are reflected in the use or absence of colour. Further devices such as wobbly cameras and elongated distance shots and zooms keep everyone on their toes. It is this technical capability that is perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of the short.
As with so much of #surrealist cinema, many viewers (myself included) will find it difficult to penetrate the narrative with so much noise and confusion. And whilst there is most certainly intrigue being created, it was difficult to fully invest in the story or central character. Too much obscurity surrounding the whole thing existed and lots of sequences felt unfulfilling.
Perhaps numerous watches are required but overall the feeling many viewers will leave with is one of baffled irritance rather than piqued interest, even if the technical variety and skill on display from Dethick is notably admirable.
Watch the official movie trailer below.