Midlands Review of Dead Air
By midlandsmovies, Mar 21 2020 11:57AM
Directed by Jordan Dean
“It’s 3:58am, here is some Coldplay”, which is a suitably dark announcement that opens new black comedy Dead Air from Leicester based filmmakers Fishbulb Films.
The film starts with local presenter Lester who hosts a night-time radio slot, which he subsequently fills with pre-recorded phone calls during his mundane show.
Like Groundhog Day, this mind-numbing cycle is repeated daily and we see Lester returning home each night, alone and looking incredibly depressed about his current predicament. Lester is played brilliantly by real-life presenter Simon Parkin (of Children’s BBC broom cupboard fame) and he brings a suitably experienced tone to his voice that is perfect for the role.
Lester’s show however is punctuated with short news snippets about a contagious virus. These somewhat echo Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds broadcast and get more apocalyptic and perilous as the film progresses. They also create a nice air of intrigue about what is happening outside of the studio confines.
Lester is also ignored by fellow presenter Ben (Ed Spence) whose successful arrogance contrasts nicely with Simon’s increasingly dreary show on the airwaves. But one night, Lester receives a call from a distressed caller asking for help as the 999 emergency services number is out of service.
The well-written and acted comedy comes from Lester’s unawareness of the chaos around him. As each emergency phone-call from “outside” comes in, Lester sticks with the banal song-requesting lingo of a clichéd local radio DJ.
As dash of Alan Partridge’s obliviousness is nicely delivered in Parkin’s performance and the little touches really add to the experience as well. From the well-designed fictional radio station logo to the correct broadcast console equipment, those small pieces really bring you into this world.
The sound is excellent as you may have expected. The light-hearted music by Peter Flint keeps everything in the comedic space until it needs to turn darker towards the short’s conclusion. The overall sound recording by Jason Nightall which mixes phone-calls, jingles and dialogue is also of a very high standard.
The film dials up the danger as we head to a final crisis involving colleague Ben, with Lester as possibly the last man standing. And we wonder whether our host really will have the last laugh.
Dead Air therefore ends up being an exceptional short film. The quality of filmmaking and the technical aspects are first-rate. However, it’s the comedy that is strong and Parkin’s performance as the pivotal person in a pandemic is perfect. Without a doubt then, Dead Air will hopefully receive a great reception on the festival circuit and I recommend you tune in to this fantastic Midlands short as soon as you can.