One of the greatest aspects of filmmaking is that its form is always evolving into new realms of artistic appreciation and social observation. To that end, Benjamin Rinehardt has crafted his eight-minute animated fever dream Realms to be a “journey through dark and hallucinatory worlds,” to which it succeeds on almost every level.
Via a visual onslaught of seizure-inducing images and animations, compounded by its hodgepodge soundtrack of screeching tones and ambient noise, we are whisked through a nightmare of distorted backgrounds and near-subliminal messages. Though the film is not outward about any of its desired effects, it achieves instant immersion nevertheless. With expressionist and impressionist imagery drawing similarities to the more wild works of M.C. Escher, Ralph Steadman, and Gerald Scarfe, the film is a remarkable (albeit brisk) dive into unconsciousness and the dark power of the imagination.
“… onslaught of seizure-inducing images and animations, compounded by its hodgepodge soundtrack of screeching tones and ambient noise…”
While there isn’t a concrete story, nor visible framework by which we consume this short film, it remains an avalanche of metaphor and fragmented perspective that stays true to its experiment throughout its runtime. The audience is never allowed to breathe or given time to absorb any details long enough for any particular image to stick outright in their minds. By the time it came to a close, the film had mentally exhausted me, yet I was thoroughly glad that it did – it wasn’t because it was a struggle to keep up, but more that Realms was challenging me to sift underneath its topmost venere and embrace its stark fantasms splattered across the screen.
From its subverted use of xrays, architectural plans, and embossed images of death’s-head hawkmoths, to custom animations and artwork, Realms oozes effort and subtlety in its vision while assaulting our senses with utterly unique distortions of the audio-visual format.
Realms (2019) Directed by Benjamin Rinehardt.
8 out of 10