Chris Folkens’ short film, Dark Side of the Earth, is a spoken word performance piece depicting the perspectives of the bully and the bullied. As our three performers unload their emotional barrage, the film’s energetic style keeps pace with tormentors and the tormented. Essentially just three men performing to the camera, the film elevates their performances with strong visual composition and stylistic touches to the point where it doesn’t always feel like watching three men perform; somehow, it feels like you’re invading their minds too.
This would be a powerful group performance even without the cinematic touches, but for the most part the aesthetic and lighting does more to underscore that strength than distract away from it. And even when it is distracting, as can be the case with the sometimes J.J. Abrams-level of lens flaring going on, it’s still not overpowering enough to cause serious trouble for the performance.
Overall, the spoken word is too powerful not to overachieve here. It hits hard, fast and leaves a lasting impression. Everything else is icing, but the cake would be fine without it.
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