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The Recursion Theorem

By Alan Ng | October 29, 2017

The Recursion Theorem is writer/director/producer Ben Sledge’s homage to The Twilight Zone. Not only does it say so on the short’s website (, but you realize it in the first ten minutes. But replicating the classic shows mystery, suspense, and supernatural feel has failed many times in the past?

Everyday man, Dan Everett (Dan Franko) awakens in a mysterious room. Dan has no memory of his past, and he is alone. The room appears to be your average living room with pictures and objects loosely associated with hell or death. But the room itself has a mystery. Cinematically speaking, anything that exits off-screen stage-left re-enters stage-right and vice-versa. This phenomenon creates an endless loop. There is no way to escape.

“Everyday man, Dan Everett awakens in a mysterious room…There is no way to escape.”

Like any good Twilight Zone episode, the short is less about how Everett escapes the room. It is more a treatise on human nature. What happens to a person when he/she is held captive? What happens to a person when he/she is left alone for a seeming eternity? And Sledge pushes his hapless victim Everett to the literal edge physically, emotionally, and mentally.

The Recursion Theorem is a fantastic tale of a man caught in a supernatural puzzle. In many ways, Sledge creates a faithful homage to The Twilight Zone. Like the original, the setting is a time not too long ago. The stage, props, and costumes have a 60’s noir motif. The music raises the tension of the situation five or six levels higher than it needs to be…almost to the point of annoyance. Director Sledge effectively uses black and white beautifully during a moment where Everett has a Sméagol/Gollum-like confrontation. I think Rod Serling would be impressed.

The Recursion Theorem (2017) Written and Directed by Ben Sledge. Starring Dan Franko.

4.5 out of 5

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