Short Films: Remember (2016) - Reviewed Plus Full Video

An existential critique of psychological disarray, Daniel Offenbacher's insidious short film, Remember, is a surreal locked room mystery. A slick, cerebral sucker punch, Remember is a harrowing refutation on the interpretation of personal grief by outsiders and a sly dissent on the futility of accepted coping mechanisms in the face of unthinkable personal desolation.

The script, written by Offenbacher, is anchored by the central performances of Rusty Hrabe and Marc Goodman, subject and researcher respectively. Using specific verbiage, delivered with ominous cadence, the viewer is soon enraptured in the stranglehold of the experimental sorcery. Phillip Greenwood's adroit cinematography drifts between a sterile interview room and the ghosts of possible memories, presenting both as tangible entities that haunt the austere proceedings. 

This is supported by magnificent compositions in which each prop and character is perfectly positioned so that they are captured not only by the camera, but by the viewer's subconscious. This is what makes Remember so special. It begins as a Lynchian homage, with a rambling, uniformed patient being guided through his nightmares by a suspect counselor. The semiotics however, are a ploy, and as the narrative unfolds, the idea that everything is a hustle becomes inescapable, leading the viewer to surreptitiously evaluate every personal disclosure and embarrassed interaction, a potent analogy to the aftermath of personal upheaval. 

Andrei Shulgach's score is perhaps the greatest conspirator. The music is dangerously cosmetic, perfectly emulating the introductions of countless horror video games and seamlessly harmonizing with Offenbacher's devious vision. Interactions are an essential part of every day life, but the manner through which they are distilled by the participants is a different creature. Remember continuously toys with this concept, blending traditional memory sequences with an awkward question and answer exchange that lingers like a paper cut to the soul. 

Available now on Vimeo, Remember won the Judge's Choice Award at the Howard County Student Film Festival and after witnessing it's unrelenting vibe, it's easy to see why. This is a film that is a celluloid transgressor. It violates the conventional sanctuary of personal discretion to the reveal a fractured tableau of loss and confused guilt, the natural byproducts of mental oblivion. If you're looking for a short film that will not only challenge your notions of comfortable disclosure, but will also dislocate your sense of emotional sanctity, Remember will not disappoint. Featuring hair raising dialogue and deceptive visuals, this is a film that shows the undeniable promise of an auteur in the making.

-Kyle Jonathan