Oops! This isn’t what I expected. With a film called “Total Control” coming from a company with the imposing sounding name of Dominion Films, I was expecting to pop this tape in and watch some art-film documentary about sexy, leather and latex clad dominatrixes or something. Von Doviak or Sweeney must be hoarding all those tapes.
Instead, I got a thirty minute short video on…cockroaches. Yes, cockroaches. Sigh.
Not only were my prurient interests sadly disappointed by this distressing development, but Abiiba Howell’s video suffers from a debilitating case of schizophrenia as well. The first part of “Total Control” relates the tale of Arthur Hightower (Derrick D. Dixon), a snobbish, wealthy African-American homeowner who’s convinced that he and his daughter Ashley (Lauren Story) are immune from the massive cockroach infestation brought on by the heavy rains that have recently soaked Houston. The adventurous roach who climbs into Arthur’s ear in the middle of the night and gets lodged there soon destroys that theory, however, and Arthur, Ashley and their neighbor Sandy (Tracy Foreman) spend the night at the Emergency Room.
Now, we all know that there are few things in life more boring than waiting in a waiting room…so why does Howell insist on subjecting us to this experience in what felt like real-time? It doesn’t even pay off with anything exciting or even remotely interesting. The doctor plucks out the roach with a pair of tweezers. The End.
Well, not quite. Part Two of “Total Control” consists of an assortment of Houstonions recounting their own cockroach stories, old wives’ tales, and tired cliches about the roach’s ruggedness and survivability. And Part Three? That would be the ten full minutes, out of this video’s total running time of thirty minutes, devoted to behind the scenes footage of the cast and crew. Combined with the full two minutes of opening credits, that left a mere eighteen minutes devoted to the actual program. Considering that the subject was cockroaches, it felt like eighteen hours.