Anesthesia / Repressions (2007) – By Josh Samford

 With Rogue Cinema, just in the past year we have become so bombarded with review requests that I think I’ve probably seen more independent shorts than I think most people will ever see in their lives. Not something to brag about really, it just comes with the job, but it never ceases to amaze me just how many filmmakers there are out there just simply looking to get some form of word out for people to look for their films. I have also been amazed at how many of them I truly do like and/or love. I have yet to recieve a DVD in the mail from an independent filmmaker that I have disliked. That doesn’t go for the bigger companies however, sadly to say. Earlier this month another pair of independent short films arrived on my doorstep; this pair from a filmmaker named Adam Kargman. Kargman is a young author/filmmaker/lawyer who has so far made a series of short films that have made waves and I can see why with these two films I was lucky enough to watch just some time ago. Even though I think I could probably do Repressions justice with a full length review, since Anesthesia is only six minutes long I figured I would pair both films together in order to save some space. Don’t worry folks, everyone knows I am always longwinded! So I’ll get right to it!

Anesthesia – There’s a favorite catchphrase of mine that is tossed around a bit that goes something like "man, that guy really pee’d in my wheaties". That’s a nicer way of putting it than what you’ll likely hear in the locker room, but the point is made regardless. Basically, wheaties are a well balanced cereal based breakfast that may or may not turn you into a highly tuned athlete who makes millions of dollars through product placement and endorsements. Urine, well, it is no substitute for milk. Not even skim or goat milk. With Anesthesia, and the promise on the back of the DVD package that claims that "anesthesia awareness" is a "real-life phenomenon", director Adam Kargman has succesfully pee’d in my Wheaties. The only form of anesthesia awareness I knew of came from that old episode of Tales From the Crypt where that one guy was given a drug that basically shut off everything in his body except for his brain and he had to sit back and watch as his brother tried to sell his organs on the black market. If this DVD case isn’t lying, then I can think of no worse hell than lying wide awake during open heart surgery whilst unable to move, speak or do much of anything other than think. Think about the inevitable pain. Think about the scalpel. Anesthesia is a short film that covers just about every horrible aspect of such a terrible thing coming to life and does it while building an absolutely TREMENDOUS tension that the audience nearly suffocates under. Anesthesia is a brilliant and frightening film that will have me searching the net for hours now after having watched it; just hoping to find such a thing doesn’t happen… or if it does, it at least won’t happen to me.

Repressions – Kargman is back at it in Repressions, more Wheaties… more urine. However, this time with a subject I’m slightly more familiar with: repressed memories and the possibility that they may just indeed be garbage. With this film, I don’t think Kargman is meaning to widespread throw a blanket over the whole idea of repressed memories, no more than I would, but one just has to admit – with the reports that have come out and leaving a repressed memory in the hands of someone else simply looking for a problem in your psyche; there’s always the possibility of a mistake. Although it’s hard to get in to all of the twists and turns in Repressions without possibly ruining for some audience members – I have to say, where Anesthesia was a tense and beautifully constructed experiment in natural horror; Repressions is an even more grown up version of a similar idea. From the very beginning there are seeds of doubt placed upon the doctor, and one begins to wonder if she truly is involved solely for the benefit of her patient in the manners in which she drags information from her patient. Like an abusive parent scolding their child for giving the wrong answers, she breaks ethical boundaries to get "all the right answers" and as we watch this grown woman who has come to a doctor for answers to generic questions that need to be dealt with on their own, this woman slowly sends her life into a tailspin of depression, confusion and turmoil. Where Anesthesia was blanket horror, Repressions is a horrifying tragedy. Dealing out a tense and sordid tale, showing this poor woman being forced through these hardships – when we the audience are doubting the procedure in the first place, this develops the same maddening tension that Anesthesia first displayed.

Kargman is brilliant in his editing techniques and shows a great understanding for the audience and knows just what to expect from them. Just when you think things are going to get better, he slowly twists the knife in your side and makes you try to resettle. The cast of characters in both films are all expert in their delivery, especially in Repressions where the true talent of the cast is on display. Sharon Case just has to be mentioned, playing the role of the victimized patient in fully three dimensional form. She attacks the role as someone having a crises, not necessarily a woman being used. She delivers a stunning performance and is a view to behold. Debra Hopkins who plays the role of psychiatrist is equally believable in her role, and even though the way she goes about delving into her patient’s past isn’t the most ethical of choices; she is never a black and white villain. She is doing what, in her opinion, is best for her patient. Taking a strong hand she tries her best to get her to admit to what she believes they both know in the first place. Both actresses are absolutely amazing in their roles and I am even now simply impressed with the professionalism and true talent on display with these films.

Adam Kargman is a name to look out for and I definitely can picture this filmmaker being a standout in years to come. The delivery and punctuation of both films are as on-target as I’ve ever noticed; and am genuinely at awe. I highly recommend both films and consider them as compliments toward each other. Hopefully more and more people can see these films, as well as Atrocity, Kargman’s first film. All are issue based films that tackle subjects one may read about but don’t see the human side of. Kargman delivers humanity and all of the emotions that come with it, and he does so with a punch. Definitely keep an eye open for this guy!