I was sent the short film Consumption, from director Richard Powell, not too long ago and it turned out to be one of the more impressive little features that I had the good fortune to stumble upon. Consumption was a bizarre twist on romantic genre archetypes by crafting a pretty ordinary love story into a story of cannibalism. Director Richard Powell left an indelible impression on me with his film and I was quite excited to receive the latest from Fatal Films in my mailbox. Worm continues a vision that entails the bizarre, but it is darker and more sordid project than his previous work; which was far more violent. Taking on the human mind in a way that isn’t absolutely original, Powell manages to take the internal monologue and remove the pretension from it and craft a nerve shattering short film that pushes the audience to a near breaking point.
Geoffrey Dodd (Robert Nolan) a high school teacher who absolutely despises his own life and the process that it has become. In his life the only thing he has is his own inner being that he keeps hidden from his external life. Through an internal monologue he explains to the world the woes and horror that craft his reality. However, there is one shining thing that keeps him going: the beautiful young student Lillian who he finds himself absolutely infatuated with. He knows society won’t accept his love for her, so his mind wanders. Geoffrey is torn between the reality of his life, where is a presentable and generally agreeable man and his internal thought process which is filled with violence and seething anger. Will he crack before the end of the school day and if he does, who will be safe?
With a focus on the title for this short film, you have to wonder where the name Worm comes from. It could be as simple as being short of “bookworm”, which few of Mr. Dodd’s students are apparently. However, looking at the poster artwork, one wonders if it isn’t an allegory to the classic “apple for your teacher” concept. After all, we’ve all seen cartoons and other media that has presented the worm that lives inside of the apple. Showcasing to us a lovely outside demeanor, but on the inside there’s a creature gnawing away at the insides. Eating it apart and leaving it empty. The character of Geoffrey Dodd has his own personal worm eating away inside of his mind, as he lets his anger and negative feelings tear apart his sanity. Although we expect a school setting to be a paradigm of safety, recent times have shown us that isn’t the case. Although Powell isn’t saying that all teachers are subsequently insane with this particular piece, I think the ultimate goal is to show the differences between our inner voice and our outer demeanor. You can never know what is going on with the internal voice and that’s a scary thing some times.
The performance by Robert Nolan is simply spectacular. His character throughout the course of the short turns from being your average smart-mouthed jerk who has something bad to say about everyone, to being a man crippled by his own negativity and fear of rejection. He is the stage for all of our uncomfortable emotions and Nolan presents them in a way that actually comes across as pitiful. Director Richard Powell had some interesting performances in his previous work but Nolan really shines here. Along with the exceptional acting, the visual look of the film is equally great. Although shot in broad daylight, within a classroom for the most part, the film still manages to create atmosphere. There are some interesting roaming shots throughout as the camera never seems to be relegated to one position so we get a film that doesn’t feel settled. It’s a restless, sordid and ferocious short that will make you feel uneasy for its entire running time. To learn more about Worm, you can check out the Facebook page here: