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Hal MacDermot [Celluloid 09.28.10] post apocalyptic review short



Year: 2010
Directors: Bruno Carboni & David Pretto
Writers: David Pretto
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Hal MacDermot
Rating: 4.5 out of 10

The Waiting Room is a Brazilian existential apocalyptic short that has great gas-mask shots and promise, but ultimately disappoints by a lack of story and development. “A young man wearing a gas mask wanders in a grey and empty city,” is exactly what you get.


Which potentially could be pretty cool. The film starts off with a powerful image that drew me right in, a man wearing a gas mask sits on a mattress in a darkened room, he stares up at the grey window, all we hear is his labored breath through the respirator. Unfortunately, story wise, it’s all downhill from here. He goes out into an almost empty city, a gray and dark place, where the few men left seem to attack each other at random, but not in a particularly violent way. The guy in the gas mask does the same. He wanders around for a while and beats up a mugger, and then the victim. He beats up a carnival style one-man band performer. He seems a bit sick, radiation? But then he stands up just fine. The city itself consists of a few empty streets and a bar and is entirely uninteresting. Finally, gas mask dude goes home and is beaten up by a man who is doing the hovering. The End.

In other words, there is no story or surprises. There is an ominous atmosphere of impending violence, of loss and hopelessness, a empty city of gray and rubbish, but there’s no story, and I got bored pretty quickly. I don’t need Mad Max on his bike, but I do expect some level of story development/twists. The violence itself is mostly shown in reaction shots, which made the film feel somewhat “studentesque,” in that the filmmakers didn’t seem like they had the experience to show a real fight sequence, or employ any SFX. I found the acting a bit amateurish, a bit clunky. Possibly the slow walk affectation was intentional, but I didn’t buy it. When the gas mask chap is thrown down the stairs, he could at least have got a bruise or a broken respirator. The sound FX and music, on the other hand, worked well. The minimalist electronica, a funereal one man band and respirator breathing all did their job.

It would be possible to keep this short film on the same one note vibe, doesn’t have to be Donny Darko, and still hold the interest. After all, The Road pretty much does that and its much longer. But then we’d need some more powerful images, like when the man in the gas mask sits watching a black and white TV: an amazing shot. More please! Or perhaps if the city was an interesting place to explore, rather than just a few empty streets, or maybe throw in some philosophical exchanges between characters. But none of that happens.The Waiting Room has aired in several festivals, most recently at the Swedish International Film Festival in 2009. The End.

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C.E. Lowe (7 years ago) Reply

I have been watching alot of short PA flicks to be inspired to finish my novella The City this one did it as far as setting and style. Go easy on them. Short films have a hard time telling a story.


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