Tom Hancock and Varun Raman have only created one short film thus far. This short film, though there are many design aspects and technical details that make the work exemplary, it’s the overall attitude and cerebral intensity that makes it a harrowingly fantastic sit. Playing in a surreal world where manipulation and mental trauma are an everyday consistency, Transmission takes a dystopian glance at the current state of England.
Leonard (Michael Shon) is standing on a stool in the center of a room – a noose around his neck, hands tied, mouth gagged. Dr. Sam (James Hyland) joyfully greets his guest, apologizes for being late, and nothing short of insanity ensues. It would be difficult and near-foolish to describe the fever dream of visual manipulation that goes on throughout this veritable rush of exaggerated and intrusive imagery. As if David Lynch and Panos Cosmatos had fused together for a seventeen-minute romp around the modern United Kingdom, it explores a greater mentality completely (and repeatedly) broken.
“As if David Lynch and Panos Cosmatos had fused together for a seventeen-minute romp around the modern United Kingdom…”
The piercing stare and gremlin grin of Hyland gets under your skin and lingers long after he is gone – almost like the Cheshire Cat. Thomas Shawcroft’s smoothly-executed cinematography manages a surprising depth and sinister complexity, even in the film’s minimally-adorned sets surrounding scenes of hardly any movement. Darrin Brading’s razor-sharp editing only increasingly excels the film’s visual assault, ensuring we never feel the film’s actual length. All of these elements are easily endemic of Hancock and Raman’s stellar writing and direction, buttressed by Alec Walker’s Dreyer-esque production design.
A film to be watched, pondered over, and discussed many times, Transmission is a powerful debut and thoroughly rewarding cinematic experience.
Transmission (2018) Directed by Tom Hancock, Varun Raman. Written by Tom Hancock, Varun Raman. Starring Michael Shon, Kelby Keenan, James Hyland.
8 out of 10