A young couple walk a weed-thick path to what appears to be an abandoned building. The structure is the Blockworld Facility, and they have received an invitation to come inside its locked grounds. The man is eager to step inside, but the woman resists and states that she will wait outdoors. Once inside, he discovers a strange uniform and a paddle hanging on the wall. He dons the uniform and enters a huge court, where his challenge is to knock out a multitude of paneled lights on a giant wall in a ferocious game of paddleball.
“Against the Wall” is a great short film that offers an unusually mature mix of CGI trickery and disturbing sound and visual effects. Director David Capurso and writer/producer Jeff Haber create a brilliantly eerie environment where the menace is subtle and understated, but the sense of dread is always present. The man’s game rises above the level of mere sportsmanship, yet it impossible to imagine there will be a glorious payoff – especially with a HAL-worthy red-lensed camera watching the proceedings and a chilly disembodied voice providing instructions. Outside of the facility, the young woman’s agitation grows slowly as loudspeakers surrounding the facility broadcast looping messages while strangely foreboding wind turbines rotate in eerie synchronicity in the near distance.
Russ Russo provides the right blend of machismo and anguish as the gamer, though his quest must be something uncommonly special if he would leave a young lady as beautiful as Sarah Ahlgren to wait for him outside. Special due is also deserving to John Plenge, who crafted the film’s inventive music score and unsettling sound design – the soundtrack is as much a star of the film as its actors.
“Against the Wall” is a superior production that raises the level of ingenuity in contemporary short films. This one is a real winner.