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Short Film Review: Run Out

Malu Rocha reviews the short film that follows a businessman wearing a dinosaur onesie as he quits his dead-end job with the hope of finding freedom.

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Image Credit: Flying Hamster Creative Studio

Run Out follows a (not so) typical businessman as he wakes up one day and decides to quit his dead-end job that has been holding him back. His loneliness and sense of despair are quite visible and we’re able to connect with his desires and goals from the very beginning. Although the film is clearly set in Brighton, it manages to create a very fabricated and dreamlike (at times nightmare-like) world through its heavily stylised cinematographic style, which immediately draws the audience into the world of the character.

The filmmaker makes a very bold statement with the heavy contrast between the lights and shadows in this film, to the point where even natural light feels unnatural. This creates a unique aesthetic and consequently makes it stand out. From the strong geometrical lines that dominate quite a few compositions throughout the film, to the constant use of symmetry when framing the main character, the distinct style of Run Out is at the forefront of its creative ambitions. Although this is mostly a positive aspect, sometimes the heavily edited colour grading can become distracting and misleading as it becomes more prominent than the story itself.

Another creative ambition of Run Out is to make a statement with its playful and lively costume design. It would be impossible to talk about this short film without acknowledging that the two businessmen are wearing none other than colourful dinosaur onesies. My reactions to this varied as the film progressed, to say the least. At first, I thought it was a really creative way of presenting a visual metaphor, but it soon became a gimmicky trait making it hard to take the characters seriously. However, towards the end I realised that this bold choice is really what makes the film come together as a whole.

Without the playful dinosaur costumes this would have been just another film about just another dead-end businessman working a dead-end office job. And although many people would have been able to see themselves in that character to some extent, having him dress up in this manner really transform him into this three-dimensional character with multiple layers that becomes a lot easier to connect with.

Through him, the film attempts to discuss various issues in our modern society, such as alienation, over-exposure to social media, isolation, and the difficulties of accepting ourselves for who we are in a society that constantly pressures us to achieve more. Although this is an interesting proposition, the simple and traditional three act structure that the film follows hinders its ability to explore these issues in more depth. Usually I’m a strong contender for this type of structure because it has proven to work countless times. But because this particular film has a surrealist element to it, it would have perhaps been more effective if it dipped its toes in the experimental genre portraying the story in a nonlinear and more chaotic manner.

The film ends (spoilers ahead) as the protagonist meets another businessman just like himself wearing a purple dinosaur onesie across a hill. After a few moments of awkward silence, they run towards each other in what I could only assume would end in a passionate embrace. However, the film ends just before that happens, making for a very powerful and provoking resolution. This left me somewhat indignant and uncomfortable, perhaps because I was too invested in the characters and wanted them to succeed, or perhaps because we as a society long for that reassurance that after a lot of running uphill we’ll find a warm embrace, or perhaps I’m simply overanalysing a scene where a green dinosaur and a purple dinosaur run towards each other with open arms like in a good old melodramatic rom com. Whatever the reason may be, I like to think that independent short films like these perhaps say more about our society than we care to admit, which provides for a very enjoyable viewing experience overall.

Run Out has been released to the public and you can watch it here and follow its progress on social media.

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