Dust Brings Us More Curious Indie Science Fiction
Too long ago, I announced a series where I would periodically review a few movies from the Dust YouTube channel. Well, it’s finally time to return. I’ve selected three short films. Each is different. Each is exciting. And each shows a wildly different future.
Before we go into things, I warn you that the content is around PG13 and can be bleak. The first video is not alarming, but the other two are disturbing. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it might affect you poorly if you’re bothered by fictional depictions of gore, body horror, or child death. Just be aware.
This one is simple. The special effects look good, and it’s cute. I like how it uses no dialog. You get a genuine sense of the robot’s character through only a few actions. And the ending, despite the film being only three minutes long, is satisfying. Whoever made this has a good understanding of efficient character writing. I’m reminded of a Pixar short or WALL-E.
This proves that you can still do great things with a small budget. I can’t defend the animation; it’s simplistic. You can even see errors if you’re paying close attention. But that doesn’t matter. The sound design and understanding of body language carry the plot. The breathing that permeates almost every second was a brilliant way to pull the audience into the situation’s urgency. And the facial expressions clarified every human decision.
It’s hard to make a story feel upsetting without cheap shock value, but this manages it. “Oxygen” is ultimately a tragedy and a very understandable one. It reminds me of something Black Mirror might do. There’s a non-zero chance one scene will make you cry.
I’m a huge horror fan. Science fiction horror is often my favorite type. But it does usually require extra work to make it scary. Creative and shocking special effects are almost mandatory. Of the three videos in this article, “The Gate” is in the middle for special effects. Certain monsters don’t look great, but nothing is awful. Only one scene showed the strings to a distracting degree. A few shots—as well as the designs—are genuinely horrific. I like how it also doesn’t rely on gore or much violence to build dread. The office scene pulls this off exceptionally well.
But there’s the elephant in the room. This story has a message. Science fiction is often a great way to get across social problems or social critiques. 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 are classic examples, and modern creations like Squid Game or Upload have kept the trend going. However, I don’t know enough about this issue to weigh in on how well this allegory fits the problem. I wasn’t aware such a thing was happening in the world, so it achieved building awareness. But this film’s comparison between victims of addiction and monsters is self-evidently concerning and possibly offensive. As a piece of horror, divorced from its social messaging, the concept of an unknown pathogen mutating people randomly is strong. But I leave it to those with real-life experience to weigh in on how “The Gate” handles its intent.
And that’s three more movies from Dust. Hopefully, the time between volumes won’t be as long next time. If you haven’t already, I recommend picking a random video from Dust and jumping in. The stories range from comedic to sad and horrific to charming. You never know what you’ll get. And that’s one of the best aspects of indie art.
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