For this review I once again go into the dark mind of Richard Powell and dissect his 2010 short, Worm. After giving out one of my very rare five star ratings to his 2015 short Heir I was certainly interested to see how his other work compared. Does it stand on equal footing with the later film or is there a progression to the quality of his films that culminates in the outstanding 2015 film? Well, let’s discuss. By the way, some aspects of the ending are referenced here, not a full on reveal of course but all the same I feel a spoiler alert is warranted for this review just in case.
The plot of this film can be pretty simply summed up as a look inside the mind of an angry, burned-out high school teacher who has to put on a polite facade to interact with a world full of people he despises. This is definitely a concept that many of us can relate to, the difference between the fake, polite side we have to show the world and the true feelings that lurk underneath.
Frequent Powell collaborator Robert Nolan stars as said angry teacher and, as I expected, delivers another excellent performance full of subtly, realism and complex emotions that linger just beneath the surface. In fact, the entire cast, made up mostly of high school age teens, does a great job and portray their roles very effectively. I was pleased to see this because I feel like the competency of all actors in any given film, right down to the extras, is a detail that can make or break the overall quality of the film itself.
As far as the story is concerned, I do like the concept but found the overall film a bit anti-climatic. Now I’m sure this was a conscious choice by Powell to take the story in an even more unconventional direction but still, I was hoping there would be a supernatural element tied in or at least some gruesome violence.
I by no means think that gore and violence are a requirement for a film to be compelling or even disturbing, but in this case I feel that Worm needed a larger sense of purpose and a more significant event to occur in the protagonist’s life to bring the story to the next level. I would also mention that while the idea of a teacher losing his mind to progressively violent fantasies is in fact frightening conceptually, I would not actually classify this as a horror film, more of an unsettling drama.
Overall though, a very solid film that is well acted, well shot, and certainly compelling enough to easily hold your interest through the duration. Not quite Heir but still an interesting and engaging short that offers a glimpse of great things to come.