I was initially intrigued by the premise of James Robin Mayo’s Fatigued because it was promoted as an interactive film.
I was wondering how this would work, given that the short film was originally submitted for screening not for an online experience of Cinemalaya but for the actual film festival which took place annually at the CCP theater. By its end, I’m happy to report that I was more than impressed by the final product.
SYNOPSIS: Fatigued is an interactive short film where audience participation is important. It is about an employee who overslept and must wake-up from his/her nightmare. Today, you can watch any movie online through different streaming sites. The idea behind this short film is to make a film that will exclusively let you feel the cinematic experience. The space and time inside the cinema are different from watching in your house. The Live participation of the audience is the unique experience you will witness when you watch along with group of people and inside the cinema.
From the onset, there was a very eerie vibe that surrounded the film. It actually reminded me of one the oldest found footage films The Blair Witch Project as well as the surprise hit Paranormal Activity, and a hint of Quarantine. There was no doubt that the filmmaker took inspiration from these movies too.
Given the initial layout of the scenario, there was strong foreshadowing about the fate of the “player”. In this case, the “player” was the audience. However, the brilliance of the film likes with its ability to keep the audience in suspense about the final reveal.
Throughout the 11 minutes or so that it took to lay out the story, audiences will no doubt wait for the other shoe to drop, fearing what will happen to their character while at the same time can’t help themselves from being curious as to what was actually causing the loop.
Particularly, I was intrigued and distrustful of the use of the word that the film wanted to the audience to mutter over and over. It felt like it was something demonic and I was apprehensive to follow the instruction, which kind of took away from my commitment to be in the moment. Still, it served its purpose.
Imagine being in a dark room all by yourself, or even in a crowded but dark theater hearing mutters and claps from fellow moviegoers. Its creepy for sure. Since its a short film, I won’t try to give everything away, except that you need to follow the instructions to get the full experience. Make sure to properly buffer the film before watching it so you don’t miss out on its many brilliant aspects.
All in all, the film masterfully laid out the horror element, but in truth, the real nightmare was actually the loss of the chance to create future happy memories in the “player’s” future. It makes you ask : For so many of us who are busting our a*ses to earn a living, is it really worth it to lose something so precious over it?