By admin | January 11, 2006

Somewhere in the world at this very second, a car is screaming down the road, its driver a carefree clown, riding chrome and steel into oblivion on the reckless winds of immortality. But in the end, all that will remain is blood, and bones and burnt rubber because cars kill!

Aspiring investigative journalist, Sala (Voutas), has been kidnapped by the evil Motokore Corporation after penning a scathing chronicle about the early twentieth century practice of using human subjects as crash test dummies. Upon his capture, Sala is subjected to an in-depth medical procedure, and subsequently christened human crash test dummy 171096.

It seems that Motokore Corporation is far more interested in the psychological impact of the crash its subjects than their actual physical safety. With nowhere left to go and facing a twisted and brutal death, 171096 must defy the odds and survive the crash if he ever hopes to see his life again.

Australian Writer/Director/Star Sam Voutas is determined to shock viewers, delivering a surrealistic industrial nightmare with the feature film adaptation of his award winning short film Crash Test. Like some terrifying cross between George Lucas’ THX-1138 and a J.G. Ballard novel, Crash Test takes a contemptuous look at the absolute corruption of corporate society as well as the disintegration of our own world through the invention and mass reproduction of the automobile. Voutas’ film exposes the general population as slaves to the car, while satirizing the nameless faceless corporate monsters as nothing more than talking heads on a television screen remotely sealing our fates as we happily drive off into the setting sun.

The film as a whole though may suffer in the largest part because of its ultra low budget. Simply stated, it is our inherent voyeuristic nature that demands physical observation of the crash. In this regard, the film has left the viewer wanting. Whether it was monetary constraints or intentional deletion, the viewer is never permitted the emotional release attained by experiencing that split second of total devastation. The omission of any actual wreckage ultimately causes the film to ring hollow, since so much of the characters motivation is in surviving the deadly crash.

Sub Rosa Studio’s DVD release features amongst other things the original short film. Interestingly enough, the short holds more attention and delivers more emotional resolution than the feature film achieves. Filmed in a stark experimental style the short film evokes the hardscapes of Brakhage and Svankmajer, and is decidedly more German expressionist than the Mad Max-esque stylings of the feature version.

Having made my peace with the fact that the short is superior, Crash Test still offers the open minded viewer an interestingly bleak look at car culture as well as opening up a potentially insightful debate over societies dependence on modern conveyances.

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