Dummy is a fun ride of a short, showing us the downward spiral of a lonely guy who just wants a partner. You get a great kick out of Lukas Hassel’s short film, which is rife with little moments to pop you.
When CPR dummies start disappearing, one trainer embraces a sudden change in his home life.
What you appreciate in Dummy is that when things start going wrong in Bill’s (Umberto Lenzi) life with these CPR dummies, you are not entirely sure if he is the one bringing them home without fully comprehending it. Or is his colleague Duane (Ben Andrews) messing with him due to their work relationship? Writer Andrew Kaberline also tosses another curveball into the film by suggesting that maybe, just maybe, these dummies have found their own way to Bill. Sensing his loneliness, they maybe want to help him.
By giving us so many options, we are left curious; Hassel and cinematographer Ryan Purcell pull off some great moments, with Bill losing control of himself and his situation, only for us to then have a shot of a motionless dummy, or in the climax for a swinging light at the kitchen table to pull off the shadows on the dummies faces. They are not moving, but that lighting really makes it feel like they are.
Ben Andrews and Umberto Lenzi are that work duo that provides a healthy dose of cringe. They are able to work great together, but you sense that there is an animosity there that has never shifted. It is all in the little interactions with their characters that make those moments work so well. Bill forgetting to put the mouth cover over the mannequin during an example immediately has Duane arrogantly tell him and their trainees what Bill should have been doing.
These little microaggressions give us a great insight into their situation in such a short time into their work relationship, one that maybe was a touch closer, considering Duane had a key to Bill’s Apartment. Kaberline fills Dummy with these sorts of moments, fleshing out Bill’s world as succinctly as possible in the 12-minute runtime. It keeps us engaged as we wait for Bill’s eventual spiral into lunacy.
Lenzi does excellently in the role of Bill, nailing the lonely nature of the character and the slight desperation of finding someone. He feels fully committed as Bill, especially in those final minutes when he has allowed the madness to take over him. There is a fantastic scene in the finale that causes true laughs when Bill comes to the kitchen table and sees what he sees. You don’t expect the film to go that way or for it to go that far, but when Dummy goes there, it is a joy.
When I say that I semi-cheered at the final couple of seconds of Dummy, it would be an understatement. That shot, just holding there, had me begging for what happened to happen, and it did not disappoint. Lukas Hassel has delivered a solid film from Kaberline’s script; Dummy is an easy and enjoyable watch.
The 19th HollyShorts Film Festival is running between 10th – 20th August with in person and digital screenings available through the 10th to 27th August.
For more information go to www.hollyshorts.com
Coverage of HollyShorts Film Festival 2023:
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