SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2022 REVIEW! Lisa (Isadora Leiva) is 21, attractive, naive, and fresh out of college. She decides that the best plan of action is to live in New York and experience all that it offers. Yelling Fire in an Empty Theater tells the story of Lisa, her new roommates, and her boyfriend as she struggles through the difficulties of the city that never sleeps. Her life is dictated by her qualities mentioned above, which can be both good and bad. Life is tough, but Lisa is tenacious, and she and the big city are about to go toe-to-toe. Who will be victorious?
The film, written and directed by Justin Zuckerman, struggles on a number of levels. Video and sound quality are lacking, and the acting of some of the tertiary cast members leaves a lot to be desired. The opening moments are stressful, as it becomes instantly clear that this will possess these flaws throughout. With its series of issues, Yelling Fire in an Empty Theater will certainly not appeal to everyone. However, the narrative is the shining star, and what Zuckerman creates will reach viewers on a personal level.
“…Lisa is tenacious, and she and the big city are about to go toe-to-toe.”
What makes the comedy successful is the fact that every second of it is so relevant. Lisa experiences major changes in her life, including new roommates, heartbreak, life in a new place, etc. The filmmaker keeps the narrative simple. Nothing feels too extreme, and it is all rather realistic. While I didn’t necessarily see the emotion that I wanted to on the faces of every character, the fact that every second expresses a series of instances that nearly everyone will eventually have to deal with allows the story to resonate.
Furthermore, Yelling Fire in an Empty Theater is simplistic in its approach toward conveying its realistic scenarios (except for the sudden twist at the end). There’s a level of discomfort present throughout, and while that may come as a result of the shortcomings, I think it’s more a testament to the writing. Zuckerman is able to develop situations that mirror the real world, and viewers feel close to the action as a result. The tension of the characters feels tangible and thick enough to cut with a knife, and viewers believe that they are experiencing the same things as Lisa and her cohorts.
The reality is that there are a number of shortcomings that must be hurdled, and the narrative suffers to a degree as a result. However, the film doesn’t drown completely, as the story that Zuckerman presents to viewers is one that is relatable and authentic. Yelling Fire in an Empty Theater is simple and honest, and viewers, regardless of where they’re from, will be able to connect to it.
Yelling Fire in an Empty Theater screened at the 2022 Slamdance Film Festival!
"…viewers, regardless of where they’re from, will be able to connect to it."