Michael (Michael A. LoCicero) hasn’t been getting much sleep lately. His duties as a teacher have him up late reading screenplays written by his students, and he’s burdened with a tendency to sleepwalk. To make things worse, life with his wife (Cate Carson) isn’t marital bliss, as money woes are causing some resentment in both directions. On top of that, there’s his baby daughter to care for, when he can keep his eyes open.
Everything goes to hell one evening, however, when a stranger (Marc Vos) comes calling. Murdering Michael’s wife on the front steps of the house, the man stalks around looking for Michael and some sort of “silver scorpion.” Michael retreats to the basement with his daughter where, fearing the menacing presence of the stranger, he proceeds to make one bad decision after another.
Derek Dubois’ short film Lucid clues us in early not to trust our main character. His sleepwalking, busy workload and resulting insomnia cast a pretty big doubt on anything he thinks is happening, unless he finally gets to crash out for a while. In other words, you can’t take much of what happens in this short as the literal truth.
Well, except that the film throws in a potentially devastating twist with its somewhat ambiguous ending that, if it’s going where you think it’s going, will result in something far worse than what has come before it. Then again, can you really trust that anything is going where you think it will, considering? In other words, there’s a few layers wrapped up in a knot over here concerning what may or many not be reality.
And for the most part that ambiguity works, though the distrust you may feel ultimately lessens any feelings of suspense concerning what’s going on with the home invasion, at least as it happens. The twist at the end does a good job of making you look back at what has come before, and whatever fear or suspense was undermined earlier hits with a vengeance.
Overall, Lucid is, appropriately enough, a pretty solid head-trip. Some fun visual effects work, lighting and compositional choices and a score that sets an uncomfortable stage, all come together to make things as uneasy for the audience as it is for the main character. Well, within reason, of course. I’m probably going to sleep fine tonight.
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