ALASKA **** Canada 2019 Dir: Gwynne Phillips, Briana Templeton, Chris Wilson. 13 mins
Written and directed by three of its stars, this darkly funny class satire has man of modest means (and “in between jobs”) Tom (Chris Wilson) running late with wife Paige (Gwynne Phillips) for the dinner party hosted by their annoyingly pretentious upper-crust pal Brad (Paul Beer). Tom is fixated by the fact that Brad doesn’t like him, and this seems fulfilled by a party at which he is mocked for requesting beer (rather than the finest scotch) and is confronted by pompous caricatures of the middle classes who toast to good jobs and make crap jokes like “I’m a lawyer, sue me!” After some fizzled anecdotes and ill-advised use of the word “fluids”, Tom becomes paranoid that Brad has poisoned his beer and it all falls apart.
The script cleverly sets up throwaway details – heavily waxed floors, Tom’s modest restaurant-style tortilla chips – that prove to be pivotal when the shit hits the fan. The early interactions are splendidly uncomfortable as the significance of “Cheersing” comes under the spotlight and Tom’s insecurities and inability to relate to this awful bunch ensures immediate audience empathy. When the narrative evolves into an escalating series of comically unfortunate events (“that’s one murder, two accidental homicides – they’re in a pile, stacked…”), we’re treated to a finely performed corpse-laden farce with a guessable twist that you forgive given the fun you’ve had getting there. Composer Gavin Whelehan provides a rather groovy electronic theme tune.
Review by Steven West