Director: Mikael Salomon
Writer: Lawrence D. Cohen
Starring: Ron Livingston, Henry Thomas, Tyler Coppin, Rebecca Gibney
Much like the Masters of Horror review, the Screwfly Solution, I feel kind of like I am cheating since the Stephen King: Nightmare and Dreamscapes ‘films’ average about one hour in length, but perhaps I should think of these as film short reviews? Yes, perhaps that will be the salve I am needing for my conscience. ;)
As the film opens we watch Howard Fornoy (Livingston) as he sets up camera equipment, he holds up a sheet of paper in front of the camera that read, “The End of the Whole Mess” followed by a second sheet that explains this is a film is responsible for. He informs us that he only has one chance to explain what has happened, by his calculations he has about an hour, assuming he guessed his blood type correctly. He states, “My name is Howard Fornoy, I was a documentary film maker, I want to tell you about the end of war, the degeneration of mankind, and the death of my brother, Robert Fornoy…the messiah.”
That is quite a bit of information for the first minute of a film. Howard goes on to introduce his family by way of a photo and some home movie footage. His father, Richard (Coppin), we are told was made a full Professor by the age of thirty and ten years later he was one of six vice-administrators of the Washington Archives in DC. Howard’s mother, India (Gibney, we learn this first name by credits only.), became a successful CPA in DC and we get the idea that both the mother and father are not lacking in the brains department. When Robert (Thomas in the character’s later years) is born we watch on a home video recording as he speaks his first words at the age of one, he calls his older brother Bow-Wow. We learn that he began to read at two and writing short essays at the age of three and as Howard informs us, except for the penmanship of his little brother you who have thought you were reading the work of a fifth grader. Howard explains that at this time he started to develop headaches, but after taking him to examined by the family doctor they are told, “He is passing the mental equivalent of a kidney stone.” The doctor says he is stressed out because his writing hand isn’t working as well as his brain. So his parents decide to purchase him a Commodore 64 with WordStar (Awesome!) and sure enough the headaches ceased.
We are told that when Robert was seven he came to Howard and explained he had created an airplane, sure enough the young wunderkind did that very thing. Through Howard’s own admission and what we are able to see, where Robert says to follow his older brother will do so. As the two boys grow up they each take very different paths, Howard has two failed marriages and becomes an Oscar winning documentarian. Robert wouldn’t stay on any real career path until he returned from an Expedition to Burma, the only teenager to every have been invited. Howard explains that Robert had become depressed upon his return and during dinner with his family he loudly and quite distraught asks, “Why are people so damned mean?” Robert doesn’t exactly get the answer he is looking for and leaves the next day after the family view the attacks during September 11th on their vacation home’s television. Before leaving he is sitting with Howard and comes to a realization that possibly why people behave savagely to one another, “Maybe it’s like the old joke, there is just something in the water. Or maybe something that isn’t.”
Four years pass with no physical presence from Robert until he shows up at Howard’s apartment in New York City. He has with him two plastic cases, one filled with Bees and the other Wasps, and with a giant grin later explains that he has come up with a way to obtain world peace.
Spoilers stop here, friends. I do recommend you put Nightmares and Dreamscapes on your Netflix, I do quite enjoy this short film (There is that salve!) but while the actors really nail the emotion of this piece and incredibly well, for some strange reason there are odd choices for sound effects like snare drum rolls and at one point a literal cartoon pratfall sound that just completely do not gel with the subject matter or have any reason to be present in the ‘documentary’ we are watching. So I bestow a solid four pumpkins out of five to The End of the Whole Mess.
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