What filmmaker David Toth does so well in his short film, Fear of Open Spaces, is place us in the shoes of a man who has severe agoraphobia. Clinton Powell plays our protagonist—a man who’s turned his third-floor apartment into a tightly sealed cocoon. His front door is taped shut and opened only when absolutely necessary.
Today is the worst day imaginable. The man (Bill Loerch) delivering his meds from the pharmacy refuses to walk up to the third floor to complete the delivery. Instead, he leaves it by the mailboxes on the ground floor. Throughout Fear of Open Spaces, our protagonist must find the motivation to leave his home and travel the seemingly perilous journey to the first floor. A brief moment of sunshine comes from the smile of a little girl (Chynna Saffer).
“…find the motivation to leave his home and travel the seemingly perilous journey…”
Writer/director Toth does a fabulous job using the medium of film to connect us with his protagonist. He uses every tool in the indie filmmaker arsenal. Fear of Open Spaces is in black and white, and Toth uses the contrasting tones brilliantly, particularly in the bathroom scene. He plays with focus and depth, and along with a few surreal effects, we’re brought right into our hero’s struggle. The short film felt long, but then again, I’m pretty sure that was the point.
Fear of Open Spaces puts the spotlight on mental illness and serves as a reminder that many friends, neighbors, and strangers we pass on the street are struggling, and most won’t say a thing. Or worse, they will go ignored.
"…puts the spotlight on mental illness"