DARKNESS IN TENEMENT 45 (2020)
Directed by Nicole Groton
Written by Nicole Groton
Starring Nicole Tompkins, David Labiosa, Melissa Macedo, Keyon Bowman, Anthony Marciona, Elexus Ray, Casey Kramer, Nicolas Aleksandr Bolton, Joseph Culliton, Marla Martinez, Emmy Greene
Find out more about this film here!!
After biological weapon of some sort hits New York, a group of survivors hunker down in their small apartment complex, divvying up supplies, and hoping that one day they might be able to leave the apartment. When supplies get low, one of the men head out into the unknown to find food and supplies, which causes an uproar for those left inside, still starving and slowly losing their own humanity.
Sound like a familiar situation? Yeah, we’re living it. And while this film seems to be wanting to tell a story slightly more extreme than the pandemic lockdown situation we are all in right now, the similarities are abundant. This makes me wonder if people are going to want to watch DARKNESS IN TENEMENT 45, as this one might be a little too soon to be deemed as entertainment. Still, DARKNESS IN TENEMENT 45 is a small and eloquent tale. It looks as if it were set in a timeless era. It could we World War II France or a poor neighborhood today. The poverty looks makes everything a homogenized gray sort of colored setting.
DARKNESS IN TENEMENT 45 reminded me most of the classic Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet fairy tale DELICATESSEN, as that film too depicted an apartment overcome by poverty and fear of the world outside. The thing is, DELIVATESSEN populated its tenement building with all sorts of odd and eccentric characters. It made venturing in and out of the apartments and corridors of the building an adventure as the inhabitants had meager means, but vivid characteristics that differentiated them from one another. Apart from a difference in age, gender, and race, there really is nothing spectacular about the tenants of DARKNESS IN TENEMENT 45. The most interesting detail of the lead, Johanna (Nicole Tompkins) is that she sews and dreams of leaving. There is a side story about a little boy who keeps on hiding and hyperventilating every time he catches a peek at the curve of his sister’s developing chest, but that’s about it in terms of character. Everyone else serves as background players or varying symbols of friend or foe. I wish writer/director Nicole Groton would have put a little more character into these tenants and made them more distinct, quirky, and interesting.
DARKNESS IN TENEMENT 45 is a decently made and meagerly budgeted film. It’s story is ok, but I think some more work on character would have helped me get into it more. The film deals with isolation and paranoia in a low stakes, but eloquent way, as if it knows the subject matter intimately and communicates that tone very well. I just think that the suffering wasn’t pushed far enough and the characters weren’t challenged enough. It simply puts a very thin veil of change over current situations though and tells a standard movie with sweet and harmless, but forgettable characters. A little more work on the script to punch it up would have elevated this one from good to great.