“Ever wonder where your emails go once you hit send?” Well, they go to Lighthouse, of course!” John Mudge’s Mailer Daemon opens with specious VHS footage of an overly rapt tech-head learning about the behind-the-scenes process of Lighthouse Mail, a company that specializes in sending emails and notifying the sender when an email can’t be sent.
In reality, when you send a message, it goes through a server called the mailer-daemon. If the message doesn’t reach the recipient’s inbox, a mailer-daemon error message is generated and sent back to the original sender. What if a personal email ends up in a pile of bounced emails? That may not seem like a life-altering issue, but in this short film, one person’s plea for assistance helps another regain purpose.
John Mudge’s Mailer Daemon envisages this mundane email procedure being operated by devil-esque characters replete with horns coming out of their forehead, and whose skin is either blue or red. It’s a diverting gambit to turn a computer system into a fully-fledged character, who feels and speaks like any human. Our isolated protagonist, Todd (Joey Harmon), spends his time alone, situated in a remote office away from other employees, and implementing a tedious task that’ll keep his superiors pleased. He resends bounced emails while watching schmaltzy entertainment on his box TV. Todd’s hovering boss, Jeff (David Tiefen), resorts to threats of demotion to keep him in place. But the monotony of the job and the lack of communication between peers are pernicious circumstances corroding Todd’s self-worth. Maybe Todd needs a reboot?
“…intimate email is misplaced in the wrong collection of emails, Todd is intrigued. It’s a cry for help from…Kelley…”
When a deeply intimate email is misplaced in the wrong collection of emails, Todd is intrigued. It’s a cry for help from a girl named Kelley (a fiery yet soft-spoken Rain Scott-Catoire): “All my life, I’ve tried to please people, and never got s**t in return.” It’s almost a direct comparison to Todd’s perception of life and where he is right now.
Infiltrating Kelley’s trust, Todd responds as Dr. Zuchnidi, the therapist she was attempting to email. Now embracing that false persona, Todd summons Kelley to swing by his office for a session. How much wisdom can Kelley get from a man (or software?) who doesn’t have their own life together?
When we first meet Todd, he’s an animated dude. He watches Dr. Susan, a talk-show that is a bit emotionally manipulative. Todd also has a powerful yearning to have a family. When he watches the guests of the talk-show embrace their love for one another, his eyes widen with joy. But that joy is fleeting, and his boss is keen on devaluing him.
"…In our current reality, some people might be afraid to seek help..."