Saturday, November 12, 2016

Short Film Spotlight: NEXT FLOOR

Welcome back to another installment of SHORT FILM SPOTLIGHT.  This week, we take a look at Denis Villeneuve's short film...NEXT FLOOR.

Over the last week, we have been showcasing the films of the great Denis Villeneuve, doing reviews for almost all of his films, leading up to his new feature, Arrival, which opened up this weekend.  I decided to keep going on this path with today's short film review.  We will be doing a couple more pieces centering on Villeneuve over the next couple days, so please keep an eye out.

Now, without further ado, please check out this week's short film, Next Floor, below:

Upon first viewing, I have to be honest, I was a little thrown off by this film.  For one, it wasn't what I was expecting, although in hindsight I don't really know what I was expecting.  And second, the lack of dialogue forced me to really look at the film and figure out my interpretation.  Which is why I chose to watch it again, and on that second viewing is when it became much clearer to me.

My initial response to the film was that it was trying to represent consumerism and gluttony, which I still very much think it does, but there's so much more.  This 11-minute film takes the idea of one of the most overlooked of the "Seven Deadly Sins" and presents it in a way that I have never seen before, and it's brilliant.

We see a large table surrounded by, what looks like, wealthy individuals who proceed to devour the food placed before them.  The food keeps coming and they keep eating, so much so that the weight causes the entire table and everyone around it to break through the floor to the "next floor", as the title suggests.  This phrase is also one of the only pieces of dialogue in the entire film.

As the people continue to eat, some seem like they truly want to stop, but don't, while others fiendishly fight for the next bite.  This is where the obvious theme of gluttony comes into play, but more so is the theme of consumerism, at least in my opinion.  Now hear me out...these seemingly wealthy people can probably have anything they want whenever they want, so much so that they could easily take their time and savor what they're consuming, as they'll be able to always get more.  But that desire to have it all is what seems to drive them, and that, at its core, is consumerism.

However, as the film goes on, and the diners fall further and further through the floors of this abandoned-looking building, it becomes clear that gluttony is, in fact, the main theme, coupled with some Dante's Inferno.  The man orchestrating this meal seems to know what he's doing, and is doing so with a purpose in mind.  On my second viewing, it became clear that this man is either a manifestation of gluttony itself, subjecting these people to his endless torture, or he's the Devil, and this is a form of Hell (possibly the third circle of Hell as in Dante's Inferno).

It's such a powerful film with simple imagery and symbolism.  But the best part to me was the lack of dialogue, which really forces you to think deeply and form your own interpretation, as is the goal with most great pieces of art.  This is one of the most interesting and thought provoking films I've seen in a very long time, and is absolutely worth watching multiple times.

The Merc's Score: 9/10

If you have a short film or know of one you'd like to see featured on SHORT FILM SPOTLIGHT, please EMAIL me and don't forget to like and follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!!

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