Film Review: Worm

A twenty-minute film written and directed by Richard Powell, Worm charts the mental decline of a school teacher who appears completely normal to others. The film has decent production values, and is an interesting watch.

Geoffrey Dodd is a high school teacher who appears normal and friendly to both his students and colleagues. It is clear, however, that what goes on in his head is just about as far removed as possible from his regular persona. As the school day progresses, Geoffrey’s darkest thoughts are revealed…

Given Worm‘s duration, the time span that is covered is perfect. The duration of the school day is sufficient time for Geoffrey to have some one-to-one interactions and teach different classes, but not too long that the audience will hanker after some deeper understanding of the protagonist’s malady. The film offers us the briefest insight into a disturbed mind, but one that is direct enough to convey the extent of his psychosis.

Worm employs a linear narrative that builds in momentum as Geoffrey’s thought turn increasingly more disturbed. It is never quite clear what the outcome will be; this makes for a tense climactic scene. The use of voiceover is essential in emphasising the difference in the way Geoffrey comes across publicly and his internal thoughts. Indeed, some of these musings are humorous in the first few scenes, before they turn decidedly dark.

Robert Nolan is convincing as Geoffrey. His pained expressions, especially when talking to fellow teachers, typify his inner turmoil; he must keep his feelings under wraps even as they bubble to the surface. Elsewhere, performances cannot be faulted, although these are minor roles.

Camera work is solid. Powell chooses to focus solely on Geoffrey and his briefcase in the climax of Worm; a very effective way of building tension in this scene. Bernie Greenspoon’s score appears in entirely in keeping with the on-screen action, it is almost jarringly sharp in the climax.

Worm is a well-paced film that will capture the audience’s attention throughout. It will be interesting to see where Richard Powell will go from here.

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