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The Independent Critic

Written and Directed by
Richard Powell
Starring
Robert Nolan, Samantha Nemeth
Running Time
20 Mins

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 "Worm" Review 
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Have you ever found yourself wondering what someone thinks about you? A friend? A preacher? A teacher?

I'm not talking about what they say to you, I'm talking about the unspoken thoughts underneath the facade of civility.

It's all a facade, you know?

In the world of Geoffrey Dodd (Robert Nolan), at least, it's all a facade. Oh sure, he looks and acts like your typical authoritative, caring high school teacher.

He's not.

Worm is, in many ways, our worst nightmare because it reveals the frightening underbelly of a disturbed soul caught between his real world nothingness and his unspoken psychological fantasies of retribution and revenge. What's frightening here, beyond Robert Nolan's mesmerizing performance in the lead role, is that hardly a day goes by now that the news doesn't report about someone like a Geoffrey Dodd, a seemingly compassionate and normal person who suddenly, inexplicably cracks under the pressure of normalcy.

Dodd lives his day teaching and mentoring students, holding silent such thoughts as "I bet if we parted that greasy mop of yours we would find a whole bunch of scars left by your mom's coat hanger. Too bad she didn't finish the job."

Disturbing.

Yet, it feels real. It feels strangely, uncomfortably realistic living in a world where teachers sleep with their students with frightening regularity and we have schools being infiltrated by perps and guns and pedophiles. You can't tell a pedophile by looking at their face, and you sure can't tell what's going on inside Geoffrey Dodd by listening to his words, watching him teach or seeing his everyday encounters with students.

It goes much deeper than that.

The weight of Worm is on Nolan's shoulders, and he gives the 20-minute short a herculean effort. His is a performance that is simultaneously grounded and menacing, a performance made ever more frightening because it more simmers than rages. As intense as Nolan is here, one gets the sense the performance itself is disciplined and restrained, a William "D-Fens" Foster for the new millennium.

Written and directed by Richard Powell, Worm is created not so much with graphic horrors as it is with an overwhelming sense of psychological morbidity. We have no idea if Geoffrey Dodd is really going to bubble over and, if so, we have no idea where he will bubble over, but the combination of Powell's stellar pacing and Nolan's performance lends the film this overwhelming sense of doom and gloom. The camera work of Brendan Mk Uegama aids the effort tremendously, while Bernie Greenspoon's original music gives the film the perfect soundtrack to Dodd's increasingly disturbing thoughts.

Worm has just begin its run on the film festival circuit, and fans of dark drama and/or psychological horror would do well to keep your eyes open for its appearance at a festival near you.

    The 50/50 x 2020 Pledge

    The Independent Critic is proud to support Indy-based Heartland Film by committing to the 50/50 x 2020 Pledge - By the end of the year 2020, The Independent Critic will achieve gender parity in its reviews of both shorts and feature films. Furthermore, The Independent Critic also pledges support for the Ruderman Family Foundation's call for authentic representation of people with disabilities in film and actively commits to leverage its journalistic influence to effect genuine change in the film industry by calling for and actively promoting authentic and inclusive casting and hiring of people with disabilities.

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