Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Writer/Director, Andrea Niada for allowing me access to an online screener of his 12 minute, Horror/Thriller short, “Wasteworld”. I recently reviewed his latest short, “Home Education” *see review* https://adamthemoviegod.com/home-education-review/. It was definitely an interesting story with Cronenberg (Naked Lunch and Spider) esq qualities to it. Wasteworld is a surrealistic, experimental film set in a world made entirely of black bin bags. A woman (played by first timer, Nicole Magdalena) hatches into the mysterious universe, where she must then find a key to a concealed capsule that sits a top a pedestal. Only then will she truly discover the terrifying secrets of the place. The film also stars Tommie Grabiec (The Seasoning House) and Jeremy Hill.
Both, Wasteworld and Niada’s documentary short, “How We Are Now”, were shot while he was attending the London Film School. After watching the unnerving “Home Education”, it’s clear that he has a sound knowledge of the technical aspects of film making. On top of that, he’s got so much imagination and never more apparent than with this surrealistic, mind bending tale of horror. The world Niada creates here is a truly nightmarish one but it’s done in the simplest of ways. The abstractness, akin to something like David Lynch’s “Eraserhead”, where nothing on the screen is overly frightening but the mood is discernible. Andrea built a physical set out of something like 1500 black bin bags and combined that with camera techniques and visual trickery in order to create the films look. It’s shot in glorious black and white photography (the only way you’d want to view it) and all the framing is expertly crafted, every composition like its own portrait. In addition, it’s an impressively lit film with only one central unit (other than the use of strobe) and all the foley is rather lively too.
The process of the short sees the woman awaken from a bag to find a man (Grabiec). From there, both of them hurriedly search the contents of various bags looking for something the right shape and size to fit the capsule in the room. Every so often the device lets out a high-pitched buzz, as a sort of “declined alert” and so the seemingly futile endeavor goes on. Some nightmarish imagery, appearance and disappearance of another man (Hill) and one crazy conclusion, make this one an extremely bizarre experience. The film doesn’t contain any dialogue but the performances are still animated. There’s a great use of sound, which replaces the dialogue. There’s a heavy amount of bass cracking that sounds a lot like lightning and plenty of other ominous tones to accompany it. My favourite scene involves the cleverly performed wrapping of a black bin bag toward the end of the film, really cool stuff.
With such an experimental concept like this you’re always going to be left with questions, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I thought at first the woman character might have been a mute but when the men didn’t speak either, it quickly put that to rest. I’d be interested in knowing whether dialogue was even possible in that dimension, maybe the frequency of a human voice wouldn’t travel in that medium, who knows. My read on the place is that it’s a kind of purgatory but I didn’t really understand the relevance of the buzzing. Was it signaling something specifically or was it just another oddity of the surroundings? What does it all mean? Who really knows for sure.
I thought Andrea’s most recent film was interesting and very well made but I’ve got a soft spot for black and white photography and peculiar concepts like Wasteworld. The practical set and the cinematography are among the best I’ve seen in an independent short. The lighting is perfect, the sounds pull you into the world and the mime like performances work better than expected. I’ll be honest, I don’t fully get all of Wasteworld but I don’t think it really matters. This is one of those films you could show to fifty different people and you’d likely get fifty different viewpoints. This is extremely Lynchian in its dream like presentation but I think that’s what I love about it. I highly recommend this if you’re a fan of Lynch’s work and to a slightly lesser extent, Cronenberg. Check out the trailer below!
My rating for “Wasteworld” is 8/10