Athas begins as a character named only Man, played by writer-director Charles Davis, drives up to a waterfront inn. The inn’s caretaker, who is credited as Woman (Leslie Dame), is out there to meet him. After a brief tour of the converted house and the two piers, Man settles in his room. The next day, he is trying to find inspiration to begin writing, when a shadowy figure appears in the door. The figure disappears as quickly as it arrived.
But it gives Man the drive to begin working. Sitting down at the house’s typewriter (his laptop does not work here), turning on the radio- which mostly plays static white noise- he begins writing away. Man is pleased with his progress, so he goes to bed for the night. Each day inspiration only strikes him when he sees the shadowy figure. As Man’s writing nears its end, the radio seems to be giving him instructions. Has the fictional world he has immersed himself in caused this man to crack? Is it just the creative pressures manifesting themselves? Or is the odd host up to something malevolent?
Davis’s darkly humorous 33-minute acid trip is not for everyone. It is intentionally vague as to what the endgame for both Man and Woman actually is. Even after viewing Athas twice, I am still not entirely sure how Dame’s character initially came to be in this situation. Given how the film ends, that is a big missing plot point.
“Each day inspiration only strikes him when he sees the shadowy figure.”
Also, on the negative side is one randomly odd scene. The tour of the inside of the inn begins in the kitchen. This moment is filmed with a fish-eye lens, which is undoubtedly discombobulating. However, it is the only moment in the entire film to be shot in that manner. Everything scene plays out with the same style, more or less, so this feels out of place. It also happens so early on that it neither enhances the ever-increasing strangeness or establish any sense of atmosphere that follows suit.
"…...darkly humorous 33-minute acid trip is not for everyone."