Let the Bodies Hit the Floor: Apartment 206
Apartment 206 by Gregory Zymet

Originally paired with Mainstream, this film also begins with a classic nightmare premise: a woman wakes up in alone in a strange room. As she explores her surroundings, a TV appears. Then another TV appears. Suddenly a young man stumbles into the room. The characters begin to explore and understand their surroundings and their relationship to each other.

The grainy washed out quality of the color palate gives this short the feel of a classic Twilight Zone episode. The premise, instead of hovering as ghosts deceased individuals who haven't let go of their earthly existence remain in a dingy apartment watching the lives of their loved ones on TV and drinking coffee, reminds me of a book by Will Self called How the Dead Live. In this book, told in first person narrative by a woman who has died of breast cancer, the dead of London simply move to a more obscure suburb and continue pretty much the same as when they were alive with the only notable difference being required attendance at Afterlife Anonymous.

Much like Mainstream, this film had few twists and a quiet creepiness. In the end, the film is more about relationships. The middle aged woman and the young man, who seemingly have nothing in common, go through typical roommate antagonism (a TV schedule, arguments about who picks up what), then they move into a more sympathetic relationship, offering each other comfort and support, next they become dependent on one another, and in the end they truly love each other. Not horrorific, I'll be honest while I was watching this film I was thinking "It's a horror film fest. I am not supposed to be on the verge of tears." However, horror or not, it's an overwhelmingly good short. The attention to detail (the exponentially increasing coffee stains) and the sense of humor in the writing were well served by the acting talent of Nicola Hersh who gives an outstanding performance as a middle aged woman attempting to follow the life of her son even after her own death.

Of course, the idea of the dead watching us is a classic bit of wish fulfillment for those of us who have lost people close to us. The idea that once our friends are no longer alive, we would continue to be utterly fascinating is a favorite fantasy. As Silo comments in the Sirens of Titan-humans always act like someone is watching even when they are alone.

Of course, the film could be taken in a more allegorical way. There is the frightening void outside of Apartment 206, which in the world of the film is the Great Beyond, but really could stand for any unknown future. The two characters are trapped by their past, which is dead. The film could be interpreted as being about letting go of the past and the deadening influence of TV and the illusion TV gives viewers (that they are actually doing something of import when they are simply passively watching action unfold). According the the Apologia, Socrates claimed there was no reason to fear death simply because it was unknown. This film seems based on that premise.

Interestingly enough Zymet was an NYU student. Given the strength of the writing in Apartment 206, I'm sure he would do well in my class. Although I might have trouble going to sleep after grading his papers.

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