Phantasmagoria

Things can be pretty tense when you’re trying to land your dream job. When that dream job will also lead to a dream career it can be even more stressful, especially when you might have a real chance of making it big in the movie industry. And anything in the creative realm can be awfully unforgiving — if you don’t seriously impress everyone your first time out of the gate, you might never get another chance to try again. So imagine how aspiring writer / director Vignesh (Vignesh Shanmugam) feels in the short film Phantasmagoria when he wins a coveted appointment with a producer.

The characters up to no good
Part of the dream sequence. Or is it?

His friend (Manoj) was an aspiring director himself once upon a time, and he urges Vignesh in no uncertain terms not to let this opportunity get away. He has a great script that he calls the 234 script, and he plans to pitch this to the producer even though he’s concerned that the producer is too old-fashioned. This story is a little wild, you see, since he originally dreamt it and later turned it into a script. Then, just before his appointment, he discovers that all his work has mysteriously vanished. Did his envious friend steal the script? Has it fallen into the hands of a stranger up to no good? Or is Vignesh’s dream not over yet, in more ways than one?

The dream sequence is a common trope and can be a very effective one, but unfortunately it’s all too easy to become lazy with such sequences. But Phantasmagoria gets it absolutely right, creating a compelling, vividly disturbing dream landscape that leaves both Vignesh and the viewer uncertain as to what can be believed. The visual effects are subtle, realistic and just unsettling enough to seem as though they crawled straight out of the subconscious. Featuring convincing performances from the cast, the film is an impressive first effort from director MJ Arun Babu that’s a perfect example of what indie filmmaking can do and which I trust will lead to still greater things.

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