Alex Newman’s short film, Videophone, is reminiscent of the music video for Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up,” what with its hyper-manipulation of first-person perspective and footage to tell a tale. Taking you from the purchase of the titular videophone, the film follows our predominantly unseen protagonist as he goes about his serial killing business, first targeting women from work before moving on to random strangers. Over the course of the footage, he’ll beat, drug and kill a handful of victims before the cops finally catch wise and pursue him aggressively.
While the overall premise isn’t the most original (whether it be “found footage” trappings or the previously mentioned Prodigy video, POV tales of debauchery aren’t all that new), this one works for the way it does more than just present the footage cold. The score is switched up between classical and more modern sounds, the footage speed is changed on the fly and the voices of various people on camera are altered too. It creates a more artistically altered reality, elevating the short beyond the ofttimes lazy and stereotypical “found footage” dreck.
That said, even at only ten minutes, I think it goes on too long. Considering the film has no problem with changing up speed and moving things to a hyper-reality stage, it also could’ve played a bit more with trimming the editorial fat. I don’t know precisely what the most powerful running time for this short would be, but I know its “charm” starts to run out well short of the ten minutes, as it starts to feel repetitious.
Overall, though, I’d prefer that this idea be done well in a short film form than stretched into a feature, so credit to the filmmakers for knowing what they had and not dragging it out too much. Videophone works, even if its subject matter isn’t the most cheerful nor its point of view the most desirable.
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