A man is tasked with keeping watch over a switch from within a bunker. The mysterious man, named Tony, only knows life within the confines of his room and tries to escape the monotony through art and imagination. When his creative outlet begins to interfere with his work, the powers behind the scenes strip Tony of any creative privileges. Unable to cope with his mundane existence, Tony escapes his bunker to explore the outside world he only previously dreamed of.
Perry Lam’s short film “Tony” is bound to speak to nostalgia to other cult film productions. Specifically, Australian genre films from the 80’s and early 90’s. The film successful plays homage to this era in a few aspects, (although the most notable is that Perry Lam produced the film in Australia) the film is edited to have a grainy and direct-to- video feel similar to low budget science fiction films of the time. The choice to purposely age a fil, is one which I find seldom successful, often being hurt by the other aspects of the production, creating an odd mix of new and old, and missing out on an aesthetic style that compliments any part of the production. Luckily, Perry Lam’s “Tony” exists as an homage into this era of film in all aspects of the production and the choice to add grain and tracking marks was a great aesthetic choice.
Within the realm of Sci Fi, “Tony” is able to encapsulate a specific futuristic vibe. With the use of household items and older sets, the production creates the dystopian vibe by taking familiar things and mashing them to create something foreign and new. Essentially, the film captures what low budget films of the 90’s saw as a possible Dystopian future. On top of the technology and sites used, the productions contain many nuances that further the design. Things such as wardrobe and locations seem purposely picked to ensure nothing stands in stark contrast to the films inspired visuals.
The plot within “Tony” is rather simple, and in part seems to build towards the idea of a larger production, resulting in a short film whose existence feels like an opening act, rather than a completed production. While the short runtime is a bit disappointing, it does leave behind the desire to see more and have the world explored a bit more in depth. The production certainly raises interest to see Perry Lam expand on the cinematic style he captures within the short film format.
“Tony” builds a wonderful nostalgic vibe reminiscent of an era of cult cinema that many fans hold in high regard. Audiences familiar with this genre of low-budget Australian genre films will likely feel a strong connection to the material within moments. With myself being such a huge fan of the genre, it is hard to be a bit objective about my thoughts on the film, as I can see it having limited appeal to those unfamiliar with its inspirations. Regardless, Perry Lam makes a well executed, and cool nostalgia trip with “Tony”. The short film would pair wonderfully with so many cult productions from the era, making it an ideal one to kick off a cult movie night with friends.