Midlands Review - Him
By midlandsmovies, Jun 1 2018 12:23PM
Directed by Scott Driver
Scott Driver returns after the success of his Midlands Movies Awards nominated film Restroom (our MM review here) with a new short drama called Him.
The 6-minute film opens on the slow running of water in a bathroom as we are shown a man (Michael Muyunda as Daniel) showing signs of stress as he rubs his neck in apparent frustration.
The audience soon hear two voices as Daniel stares into the bathroom mirror and as he begins to undress, a voice asks, “Why are you here Daniel?” and he immerses himself into a full bath.
His response to his this conscience-like voice is simply “I don’t know”, suggesting a conflicted man struggling with his demons. The director uses long deliberate shots to slowly create an atmosphere of anxiety and as Daniel takes a deep breath – we inhale at the concerns about to unfold along with him.
We hear the words “don’t forget me” which hints upon a terrible act to unfold and director Driver shows Daniel rifle through the bathroom cabinet in a frenzy. It is here that the shocking revelation we are witnessing a possible suicide becomes apparent and no punches are pulled with the inclusion of an upsetting shot of a razor blade drawing blood from a forearm.
Sweat, tears and spit pour from Daniel, who seems reticent but genuinely anguished, before he dives head first into the water of the bath. Here the film uses the bathroom as a place of male privacy. But it’s also a representation of cruel cold isolation. With suicide currently the leading cause of death in men under the age of 50 across the UK, Him tackles this dilemma head on.
Between 70-75% of all suicides across the UK are by men and the social and clinical dangers are not clear cut but the film suggests that silence and solitude are observable factors as people become increasingly fragile. The impressive buzzing atonal sounds from composer Erick McNerney also builds a suitable menace without overplaying or oversimplifying the real terror.
From The Shining to Psycho the bathroom has often been presented as a place of disturbing death but unlike the horror genre splatters, this film avoids clichés with a disturbing drama that presents a more harsh authenticity.
As the film cuts to a family dinner, the filmmaker plays with time and space as we ask ourselves if this scene is leading up to the events or set afterwards. With small talk of work and school we soon discover it is afterwards as Daniel’s partner questions how his day has gone. His unconvincing response “It’s been good” leads us to a final shot framed by a window that gives us a glimpse into his troublesome and lonely world.
A short sharp shock of a film, Him has a fantastic central performance from Michael Muyunda who channels a complicated and despondent character with nuance and sensitivity. Feeling like a subject matter that is close to the director’s heart, Him ends up being a superb dark study of despondent males who are still hiding their individual anxieties from the world, and loved ones, around them.
Midlands Movies Mike