Z.A.F. **** UK 2015 Dir: Michael Fausti. 20 mins
Shot on a consumer camcorder in oppressive black and white, writer-director Michael Fausti’s debut short is a galvanising descent into insanity, pivoting around his own performance as Commander Olson. Dogged by his military past, he witnesses a suicide and sees his already fragile mental state fracture further into insomnia, paranoia and delusions. Olson accepts treatment from civilian doctor Jared Haste and everything seems to fall apart. Claustrophobically shot on an old airbase with hallucinatory montages and images designed to cause discomfort (note the lingering shots of the hypodermic needle), Fausti’s film offers a disorientating homage to mind-fuck cinema from the silent era through to A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, while deftly riffing on the mad scientist sub-genre. The minimal dialogue, chilly monochrome visuals and jarring sound design echo (among other things) CARNIVAL OF SOULS, but it all suggests the emergence of a distinctive filmmaker.
Review by Steven West