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By Maya Kroth | March 25, 2005

The moral of this short by Simon Ellis may well be “kill your television … before it kills you.”

While walking down the street to his Nottingham apartment one gray afternoon, our nameless hero feels someone tailing him, but when he looks back, nothing’s there. We know this because we, the camera, have jumped to the other side of him during the edit. We follow our hero up the stairs and into his flat, where he flips through channels on the telly – including a cooking show starring an uncredited Ellis as a chef – and lands on a program showing a severe-looking man and woman walking up a familiar street, which he quickly realizes is his own. The pair ascends the stairs and is soon outside the door to his flat, knocking, while our hero watches them on the tube.

What the…?

Breaking down the door, the bad guy starts attacking our hero and a chase ensues, which finds our man and his assailants running in and out of the TV and being rewound, fast-forwarded, paused and played again until they’re finally zapped out of existence at the push of a button on the remote control.

Sound like a mind-f**k? You bet; there’s a reason why Ellis has been a staple of Cinequest’s “Mindbenders” series for years. The short has no dialog save a couple subtitled “what the’s” thought by the tripped-out characters, but Ellis does sound like no one else (you never heard snotty sinuses sound so vivid, for better or worse). The film’s effects and the meta- meta- meta-message make “What the…” film festival fare at its best. This one’ll be a kick for anyone that grew up fearing the “Poltergeist”-era ghost in the machine.

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