An alien-induced apocalypse is coming, and the lone Cassandra against this unlikely doom is a seemingly paranoid scientist calling into an overnight radio talk show to hark the end of the world. That’s the notion behind “The Radio Mechanics,” a somewhat predictable yet often quirky short sci-fi comedy.
The film is basically a two-person conversation: the smooth radio host (Doug Pelton) who listens with unsteady ease to the rant of a frayed scientist named Stillman (Patrick Murphy). Stillman’s description of alternate realities, extra-terrestrial abductions and the world’s demise grows weirder and sillier by the minute, yet he is allowed to talk his way across the radio waves. Throughout the conversation, the camera finds the relatively few listeners to this radio rambling: a young woman at an all-night laundrette, a gluttonous slob asleep with his midnight snack balanced on his belly, an elderly couple in bed (the man is in slumberland, his wife is visibly perturbed by the talk show) and a car where an escaped mental patient holds a trussed up hostage (don’t ask how that last pair got in here).
If the payoff is easy to detect, then at least one can enjoy the distractions of a sharp production: imaginative set design, amusingly off-kilter casting, a nice rapport between the two leading characters, and the ability for filmmakers Jonathan Johnson and Preston Herrick to get their message across in a compact 17 minutes.