"Do It Yourself" Experimental Thriller

in 39th Seattle International Film Festival

by Andrés Nazarala

It’s impossible to watch Worm without asking ourselves how it was made. The third feature film of young director Andrew Bowser (Jimmy Tupper vs. the Goatman of Bowie, The Mother of Invention, co-directed with Joseph Petrick) premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival and stood out for its high level of ingenuity and consistently risky “do it yourself” attitude. Fortunately, the result is effective and admirable.

Shot entirely with a Gopro Hero 2 (a very small camera commonlyused for sports videos) mounted to a Snorricam, Worm assumes a single, highly unusual perspective for its entire duration, one that forces us to stare continually into the face of the film’s antihero, played by Bowser himself. From this angle we watchhis expressions shift as he runs, fights, talks to himself and deals with a conflict that develops in real time. Everything else — the desolated landscapes of Guthrie, Oklahoma, the secondary characters that interact with the protagonist—are relegated to the background or remain off screen.

Bowser’s decision to “wear the camera” may seem pretentious, but it works in favour of entertainment. It enhances the intrigue and forces the viewer to focus on 93 minutes in the life of a man who is wanted for a double homicide. Gradually we learn that he is the victim of a conspiracy that will put his family in danger. It’s the classic story of the common man who becomes an unwitting hero, forced by the circumstances. The distinction here is the restless and original way the director presents the action: in high-contrast black and white (ideal to create afeeling of claustrophobia), relying on a single angle with no cuts (actually there is one, strategically hidden), à la Hitchcock’s Rope (1948).

The challenge is not an easy one to take on. As a director, Bowser must develop a tangled thriller following the rules of his own game, making sure that every element is in its right place at the right time. As an actor, he must be credible because his face is the main elementof this tour de force that proves that budget is not a limitation when there isa strong will involved. Above all, Worm revives the importance of the smartly chosen gimmick, standing in the unexplored territory where experimentation meets entertainment.

Edited by José Teodoro