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By Phil Hall | February 10, 2005

“Valhalla” opens with a close-up of a man whose face is soaked with blood. He is breathing hard and is clearly agitated. How agitated is he? Well, he tries to light a cigarette but keeps fumbling with the matches for a minute or two until he gets a mini-blaze going. He enjoys smoking the cigarette, even though it is not good for his health – and even worse, it’s not a Dunhill Red, which is my favorite cigarette. But then again, no one asked me to provide cigarettes for this film.

Anyway, the blood does not belong to the man, but rather to someone who was on the receiving end of a crowbar that the man was swinging a few minutes ago. The man’s clothing is bloody, and so are the white walls of the bare room where the altercation took place. The man laughs a little, cries a little, and smokes a little (taking the lighter from the dead person since he bumbled his way through the matchbook, leaving it bare). Then he laughs a little more, cries a little more, smokes a little more, covers the body with a sheet, takes off his bloody shirt, and sits around smoking while the Creedence Clearwater Revival tune “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” blares on the soundtrack.

And that is “Valhalla.” I am sure this 19-minute short means something. Or perhaps I am being optimistic. Or perhaps I am singing along so happily with the CCR tune and puffing my Dunhill Reds that it doesn’t matter.

Someone named Jacob Strunk made “Valhalla.” I have no clue why his film is called “Valhalla.” The film looks good for something shot in an empty room. I am sure he paid a lot of money to use “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” in his short film. Or maybe he didn’t? Does anyone have a smoke? Or a crowbar? And how come there are no happy animals dancing in my backyard? All I have is a deranged squirrel who keeps digging holes in the lawn. But no one is making a movie of that, which is a shame since that’s more interesting than “Valhalla.” I need a cigarette.

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