THE THIRD HAND **** UK 2019 Dir: Yoni Weisberg. 10 mins
The film debut for writer-director Yoni Weisberg – “a classic tale of greed” in his own words – is a fabulously inventive and unsettling character study from a filmmaker who has been hooked on “brash genre filmmaking” since his mum let him enjoy a Ritz Video-rented double bill of ROBOCOP and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET.
Tom Bonington delivers a bravura, wordless performance as a white-collar worker driven to extreme acts during his 9-5 grind. The opening shot immediately immerses us in a horribly familiar, stifling world: a slow track toward a doorway in which a boring-looking middle-aged man in a shirt and tie stands at a vending machine. Familiar office mise en scene becomes unusually disturbing: a printer with an irritatingly over-familiar error message, said vending machine becoming reluctant to vend, close-ups of the beads of seemingly unwarranted sweat trickling down this man’s face, staplers and guillotines. And the clock is the only constant, slowly ticking its way toward 5.
Key influences range from the unnerving comic surrealism of early Sam Raimi (a vending machine of only disembodied hands) to the yuppie nightmares of 80’s black comedies, but production designer Marc Ingham and cinematographer James Watson (alongside a suitably jarring, rumbling soundscape) collaborate to create a recognisable nightmare all of their own, and one that can only end with arbitrary death.
Review by Steven West