Review: 'Baggage'

By: Heather Seebach

In Baggage, Benjamin looks like a normal American citizen with a quaint home and a beautiful wife. But as you can probably infer from the film's title, Benjamin has some emotional baggage. He is stuck in a cubicle all day at some depressing job where his co-workers don't appreciate or understand him. He has no real friends, so he keeps to himself. But when a violent encounter shatters his already-fragile calm, Benjamin's baggage begins to re-surface.

This 15-minute short was written by and stars podcaster and indie filmmaker Rob Dimension, who previously made the film, No Clowning Around. As Benjamin, he is convincingly disturbed yet sympathetic. With a soul-sucking job and general disconnection from the world, he is a character to whom most viewers can relate. So too can the audience recognize that this man is a little "off." As the film goes, more and more things suggest something is rotten at the core of Benjamin and his seemingly average life. 

Astute viewers may have an idea of where the story is going (watch enough movies and it's bound to happen), but Baggage is about Benjamin's downward spiral, not necessarily the consequences. All the elements you need are there from the beginning, but the film takes the time to show what aspects of his life may have led him to such a damaged state. The suspense lies in watching Benjamin's stability circling the proverbial drain like a character out of an Edgar Allen Poe tale.

 Director Jeremiah Kipp and cinematographer Jeffrey Scott Gould bring a Hitchcockian quality to the film with bold camera angles and constant slow tracking shots that create unease. The ever-moving camera feels like some stalking menace, especially when it hovers above Benjamin oppressively. Baggage is also in black-and-white, further nailing down the Hitch homage. The final product looks crisp and beautiful.

Baggage is not a scary movie in the traditional sense, but there is enough familiarity in Benjamin's mundane life to unnerve the audience. For me, the most disturbing moment occurs near the end, in the form of a few well-placed objects, but it is incredibly subtle and likely to be missed by some viewers. Rob Dimension already has a knack for crafting portraits-in-motion of broken human beings, and with Kipp's keen eye behind the lens, his sophomore effort is sharper and cleaner.

Baggage will be released on August 16th, but it is currently available for pre-order here. The $8 DVD will also contain behind the scenes footage, interviews, commentary, and Dimension's other short, No Clowning Around.

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