Dark Roast (2014) – By Teresa D. Lee

It’s over, again. He seemed exciting and new, young and beautiful and someone who could make you feel alive again; and then he goes and points out all the things that are wrong with you. Moreover, there’s no promise of a change in his mood if you do show progress toward changing them, or worse, the one thing he wants you to change is the one you never, ever can. But the light at the end of the tunnel is that in your line of work you never need suffer these fools for long.

Dark Roast is a three minute comedy sketch from writer-director Peter Yagmin, who seems to be both a horror and comedy fan according to his social media profiles. The warmth of a coffeehouse juxtaposes nicely with the worst sort of behavior young people typically inflict upon each other. In effect, this short is a comedian’s rendering of Dead Like Me that has one point to make about relationships and death without getting into the complicated social rules of the reaper world or the ongoing malaise of reaping souls. It’s just a thing to do, really, and if you give a damn about her bad reputation, you may either carpe reaper or join the danse macabre.

Diana Porter and Shaun Callaghan star as the reaper and her boyfriend who is in the act of becoming a self-absorbed embodiment of ex in a public place of the sort where the fighting happens when the breakup is all about you and your needs. I personally had some trouble buying the dude’s concern about his goldfish, which he probably didn’t have time for until he started to suspect his girlfriend killed them. If he could look outside of himself for just a minute he might realize that even reapers need some love and companionship. The chase is only better than the catch if you only ever use monkey wrench bait.

I’d like to take a moment to also review the social media accounts of those involved because I now feel like I know them over coffee and you will likewise want to. Porter in particular has a good sense of comic delivery online as well as in the film, and she’s something of a joke writer and vocal feminist as well on her Twitter, @DianaMPorter. Shaun Callaghan’s @calagnahag is a display of his active musician lifestyle, and @PeteYagmin is a curator of web comedy when I doesn’t have an indie film to promote or observation on technology to share. And you can watch for where and at which web festivals to see this film at @DarkRoastFilm.

My only negative comment is that trafficking in joke logic as it does, the sketch misses any chance at a real emotive statement about human relationships. As for being a comedy video, jokes could be taken further, different perspectives on the breakup explored more thoroughly, even in this one scene the characters could grow a little, and the whole sketch could build more.

It will make you feel better in the short run, but I don’t have closure from these three minutes. There’s trouble on both sides of this relationship, and no one is looking at their failure to communicate. The barista may have been a useful objective third party, but… Oh. There we go again with the casting out of anyone who momentarily displeases us. What does the DSM have to say about pre-emptive murder as a coping mechanism?

It’s not a feature, and there are no great life-changing messages about seizing the day, but this film totally works as a three minute joke that tells you your latest breakup isn’t a big deal. I hope this sketch goes viral on the comedy video websites and is shared all over RelationshipStatusbook and TweetupSpace. I moreover hope that every time a friend gets dumped in a heartless way without a civil conversation or chance to fix things before breaking up, that friends of the same gender will come to the defense of the dumped by posting this sketch to their wall to remind them that no one worth keeping alive treats people like they aren’t good enough to calmly work things out with in private. Also, for your memento mori consideration, sexy black eyeliner and matching garb may not look totally healthy, but they’re the first step to moving on with your self esteem in tact.

Who’s up for dishing about relationships over a caramel macchiato?