When it comes to dangerous missions and covert operations, one can usually choose not to participate in them. With prophecies, however, there is no option to accept or decline. One must fulfill one’s destiny. In David J. Bernstein’s short “Expiration Date,” Jeff Johnson (Travis Davis) whole-heartedly embraces that a 300 year-old prophecy has chosen him as its vessel. The film begins with Jeff’s parents waiting to get his birth certificate. When it is finally ready, an expiration date appears on the paper. A doctor informs the bewildered Johnsons that there’s no printing mistake. Jeff will expire on the pre-determined date.
The film skips to the present. We meet thirty-two year-old Jeff three days before he’s set to vanish into thin air like all those who’ve gone before him. He seems quite calm and peppy for a man who’s making final arrangements for his own funeral. Jeff could very well be planning a wedding. Substitute the wedding cake for a casket, but finding a banquet hall, the right caterers, and a good DJ still remain. Jeff is taking his expiration date very seriously, but he’s getting the feeling that his friends and loved ones aren’t quite as moved by his destiny. His friend Neil (Bryan Krasner) even started a death pool with squares including spontaneous combustion, food poisoning, and laser death ray of unknown origin. Jeff’s girlfriend Sherry (Deena Dill) won’t shop for a casket with him.
What could be a depressing existential query into the meaning of life is morbidly humorous under Bernstein’s direction. If only we could all have expiration dates on our birth certificates. We would then know how short life really is and not “waste” our time doing unsavory and useless things, and have input as to who’s invited to our funerals.
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