Tobias: Dark Hallway Image

Tobias: Dark Hallway

By Terry Sherwood | February 26, 2024

One of the exciting aspects of film is when a filmmaker changes the narrative structure of a work. One can use flashbacks, or events could be shown, suggesting the whole story is a dream sequence. Tobias: Dark Hallway, written and directed by Lawrence Lee Wallace, takes the premise of the world of mental illness and gives it a slight tweak of tasteful death from a “film within a film,” giving us, the audience, a warped feeling that people are trying to get you. Paranoia is not new to horror; however, the immediacy of the film’s point of view and the lovely small cast make this picture an excursion into authentic, unromanticized, isolated madness. The reluctance of those with trouble to take prescribed medication is poignantly shown as a tradeoff to functioning fully without side effects.

Tobias (Edward Williams III) is an everyday person who is tormented by his illnesses that were brought on by isolating during COVID-19. Shot with the camera as an interloper/guest in his home, Tobias speaks directly to the viewer about his problems and perceptions. Willams III is outstanding in his voice inflections and subtle facial expressions as Tobias becomes a victim of various uncontrolled emotions.

It is important to know that Tobias: Dark Hallway is not a filmic version of mental illness. This take on Jekyll/Hyde causes rapid shifts in behavior, such as violence, sexual ecstasy, laughing, and crying, all in the space of 60 seconds. Each of these enriches the story as the actor carries the transitions off flawlessly and with dignity.

Tobias was once a teacher. He now works for an unforgiving boss, Barker (Ivan Ellis), whom he calls one rainy morning, unable to go to work due to his troubles. Barker is not considerate of his employee’s plight. Tobia’s life crashes with a visit from his former girlfriend, Erin (Camille Wiggins), who is about to marry. Tobias believes they have a child together, which he yearns to see.

“…Tobias explodes in anguish, bringing his landlady Candace down to stop the noise.”

After Erin leaves, Tobias explodes in anguish, bringing his landlady Candace (Kelly Holcombe) down to stop the noise. There is no sympathy for Tobias’s plight; she only needs the rent paid, or he will be kicked out. She questions why he is here during the day in a confrontational battering manner, finally wondering if Tobias even has a job. This is too much to handle, resulting in a rather brutal stabbing as Tobias vents his rage upon the screaming Candace. This isn’t some Jack the Ripper-esque bloodletting, but a human plausibly pushed to the end of their coping. This is why the moment is so chilling.

The most chilling sequence in Tobias: Dark Hallway is when Tobias confronts his boss. He ties Barker up and questions his feelings. When each answer is not satisfactory, he shoots a part of his employer’s body. Tobias asks why he wasn’t promoted, getting Barker to admit he hired three other people instead because the staff did not want to work with crazy. The resulting raging is made plausible by practical effects and a brilliant cast.

However, the film takes an odd turn by incorporating an independent film. The fake movie is about a criminal who uses a kabuki-style mask like the one in the opening sequence of No Time to Die. Familiar tropes of the captive women who escape to rooftops pursued by the masked killer play out.

Tobias: Dark Hallway shows the disintegration of a human being who wonders what is happening to him. The picture postulates that we should wonder what is happening to us. Wallace gives his wonderful cast room to work, creating wonderfully tense moments. The cinematography of the hallways symbolizes the descent into madness and the dark down, which has no clear resolution. Tobias continues to live by Edgar Allan Poe’s quote, “I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity,” and he will do so until he takes his eternal slumber.

Tobias: Dark Hallway (2024)

Directed and Written: Lawrence Lee Wallace

Starring: Edward Williams III, Ivan Ellis, Camille Wiggins, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Tobias: Dark Hallway Image

"…wonderfully tense moments..."

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  1. Alexander says:

    Looking forward to this! Sounds disturbing!

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