Roland and Claudia, a couple headed for divorce, are arguing while driving down a dark country road. Taking his eyes off the road a little longer than he should, Roland hits and kills a young girl. Fearing a long jail term, Roland convinces Claudia they should leave the scene of the accident. But once they arrive home, the couple continue to argue. As the fight spins out of control, Roland begins to strangle Claudia…until Claudia awakes from what had been a horrible nightmare–the kind of dream that seems all too real. Claudia is convinced her dream was real while Roland reminds her that the psychiatrist told her this could happen after the trauma of her miscarriage. But even as seemingly old friends drop by for their weekly brunch date, Claudia remains unconvinced of her reality and struggles to solve the mystery she finds herself embroiled in.
Thus begins Via Dreams, a surreal film short (18 mins.) by writer/director Rodney Wess. Movies that deal with dreams and dream sequences are notoriously difficult to produce and many fail because they end up being more confusing than interesting. Via Dreams falls somewhere in between. Wess has an interesting take on alternate realities but there were too many loose ends to craft a truly complete story. I was left with several questions I felt needed to be answered. For instance, if the two are experiencing an alternate reality, why did Claudia awake with her own hands around her neck, strangling herself? Also, we occasionally see the dead girl as she follows Roland but we aren’t sure whether Roland is being haunted and this is the cause of the mysterious events or if we are truly in a dream. So is this a story of a haunting or a movie about dreams and alternate realities? There are also several inconsistencies in the film such as the dead girl revealing to Roland that she is his daughter…the one his wife supposedly miscarried. If that is true, then how could she be a grown child in her teenage years, not to mention the fact that Roland has already admitted he was lying to Claudia about the miscarriage in order to convince her she was in reality and not a dream.
Wess has created a film with several interesting concepts but has ultimately failed to connect all of the story elements. His indecisiveness leaves the viewer a bit confused as to what kind of film we are actually watching. Is it a film about dreams or alternate realities, or perhaps a ghost story? Even Wess takes a self-deprecating jab at his own story by having a character draw a parallel to The Twilight Zone, an unfortunate attempt at a bit of comedy that falls flat. I enjoyed the unique look of the film which casts a surreal, dreamlike quality across the entire picture and suited the story well. The visual effects were also interesting and added to the weird atmosphere of the film, as did the sparingly-used musical score. But ultimately, Via Dreams is a bit too uneven to be completely satisfying.
Via Dreams is currently making the rounds on the festival circuit, but for more information on upcoming screenings or to view the trailer, you can go to the R.W. Films website at www.rwfilmsllc.com.