When an easy going traveling man stops in at a doctor’s office for a long overdue medical checkup, high anxiety takes on a whole new meaning.
Rob Carpenter sheds an exploratory light on preventative healthcare in his newest short film, Dirty Bill of Health. In this sometimes-humorous thriller, a non-committal man named William persuades hardly-working receptionist, Candy (spelled Caundy), to squeeze him in for a medical checkup with Dr. Morgan Selaurs. William does this because he’s never been to a doctor before, and feels that it’s probably the right thing to do.
The carefree patient stands in sharp contrast to the very tight-lipped, no-no-nonsense doctor, as the two exchange words prior to William’s physical. As the physician pokes, prods and does the usual superficial tests for new patients, he learns that William has no knowledge of his biological family-members, no friends, career, past or future. In spite of all that, William is relaxed and confident that he has no medical problems, and is not the least bit worried. However, when Dr. Selaurs begins William’s colorectal exam, things go from bad to off-the-charts, wild—with no end in sight.
What makes Carpenter’s film edgy is its ability to veer us from our logical conclusions to elsewhere. We begin to suspect that something is askew, when the filmmaker’s lens continuously returns to the television news broadcast of one Janet Mandleson, warning of something sinister in town. We’re further on guard when we realize that Carpenter’s characters may not be as clear-cut as they seem. But it’s the simplicity of Carpenter’s cinematic setup, likened to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope, that tips us off that Dirty Bill of Health is neither mundane, nor straightforward, and even when the story ends, we wonder if what we just witnessed could actually happen, and whom we can ever trust again.
My only gripe about Dirty Bill of Health is that I wish it were feature length, so that each amazing character could be fleshed out with more psychological depth.
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