Tom (Fabrizio Filippo), Sandra (Marya Delver), Randy (Tobias Godson), and Curt (Gordon Currie) are, possibly due to boredom, in the midst of a bet to see who can survive the longest without leaving the corridors and buildings that connect their downtown area. A month's worth of salary is at stake to prove their stubborn will surpasses their peers. What helps is that most of the area near their office is connected to life's necessities though passages that join one building to the next. Hence, they are able to go home at night, eat food at the mall, and so on without having to actually encounter the great urban outdoors.
It's day 24, and the claustrophobia is starting to wear on them all. Tom accidentally gets himself entangled in a dysfunctional love tryst and keeps experiencing delusions of flying and superheroes saluting him. Sandra is addicted to perfume samples from magazines, suddenly scared of digesting continually recycled air. Randy is heard from every now and then but doesn't get enough screen time for us to care about the challenge to his sanity. Curt, who is engaged to a woman that won't sleep with him until they tie the knot, is disturbed by his lack of getting laid, putting thick moves on a vulnerable co-worker.
The basic idea is silly, the characters are silly, and yet waydowntown is a confection not easy to hate. It could be the skittish, most likely hand-held, feel of the camera that punctuates the quick pace so that you never get bored, no matter how mundane the conversation. Thankfully, the constant movement isn't jarring enough to generate the headaches that The Blair Witch Project did.
Perhaps it's the amusing, recognizable quirks of those around you that come to the surface when you've been around them for extended periods of time. Or that it's easy to point out the stupidity of each person on screen as their common sense wanes in lieu of needing to escape. They are all average enough caricatures that "acting" doesn't quite seem the right word to describe them, but it also keeps them interesting enough to follow.
Director Gary Burns wisely chose to shoot on digital video, which lends itself well to the closed spaces while providing an eerie, sick coloration to every scene no matter where it takes place. Once you get over the initially ridiculous foundation the story is formed around, the jail-like quality of an enormous mall does indeed seem oppressive.
waydowntown may not be an important movie, or even a good one, but it provides a nice change of mindless pace in collision with the hot Oscar season currently underway.
The DVD includes behind-the-scenes footage.
Run time: 87 mins
In Theaters: Friday 25th January 2002
Budget: $555 thousand
Distributed by: Lot 47
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 70%
Fresh: 23 Rotten: 10
IMDB: 7.0 / 10
Director: Gary Burns
Producer: Shirley Vercruysse
Screenwriter: Gary Burns
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