The Movie Waffler Shorts in Focus - <i>Remote</i> | The Movie Waffler

Shorts in Focus - Remote

During a storm, a man's TV draws him into a terrifying situation.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Marc Roussel

There is earlier evidence of Roussel’s assured style in Remote, his 2010 short which, with its confidence and Twilight Zone narrative ingenuity, exhibits a similar flair to The Last Halloween. Although the style of each film is strikingly diverse, both have similar thematic interests and observations. A chief likeness is the films’ milieu; both shorts are set in suburbia, detailing the horrors and magic which could lurk within the ostensibly innocuous environs of family homes and leafy streets.
In Remote we open on Matt (Roussel regular Ron Basch), an average guy with a hangdog air; there are telephone squabbles with his estranged wife regarding access to their daughter, and the postman keeps placing Matt’s correspondence in a neighbour’s mail box. Moreover, upon opening said mail, he discovers an oblique polaroid with his name and that day’s date on it. This strangeness reaches its uncanny peak when, as Matt settles himself in front of the television for the evening, the storm’s interference retunes the dial to an unexpected broadcast: Matt sees a young woman (Sarah Silverthorne), sitting in a dated apartment which is unusually similar to his….and, what’s more, she sees him too.
What follows is an innovative science-fiction tinged take on Rear Window; it is suspenseful and clever, and anyone who has ever shouted ‘RUN!’ at the screen while watching a young woman in immediate peril will appreciate its witty ironies. The pacing of Remote is purposeful; in a very short time, the film makes us truly care for these characters. Roussel displays a clear confidence in his actors, whose performances are understated yet completely convincing, our investment in them effectively sells the urgent dread of the second half. The look of the short is similarly determined, its cutaways to full screen static are weirdly ominous, and the genuine shocks which eventually occur are particularly jarring for their scarcity.
As a film that touches upon time travel, Remote intrigues. There is a running motif concerning the uncanniness of technology: the ‘ghosts’ that exist within photographs, the internet, tv programmes, mobile phone cameras. Tech is a nexus here, where the past and the present co-exist, and the dead or alive have no distinction. 
Re-watching is rewarding (it is likely that you’ll want to give Remote at least two viewings), wherein little details which initially seem incidental reveal poignant meanings (pay attention to what the newsreader is saying in the background…), and the opening scene’s contrast with the last has a reflective satisfaction.
With its intricate character work and carefully arranged narrative, Remote is as tightly constructed as a Swiss watch; each component working in an expert tandem, and well worth your time.
Remote will be exhibited in film festivals (and, apparently, if you squint, in Atom Egoyan’s Devils Knot where it plays in the background of a scene, trivia fans).