OUT OF PLACE
Episode 1 of A Seat on a Train
Written and directed by Daniel MacMunn
OUT OF PLACE is the first episode of A Seat on a Train, a series revolving around a seat situated on a train that exposes the deepest, darkest secrets of the passenger who sits on it, and in this episode, it is a man named Spencer who takes his place on the mystery seat.
Spencer is a clean-cut, smartly dressed gentleman who’s preparing a delicious meal in his kitchen. Checking his pocket watch and paying close attention to carving the roast, his date for the evening, longtime girlfriend Samantha, knocks at the door. Spencer invites her in but it soon becomes apparent that Spencer is a stickler for being on time and things being in the right place. When Samantha keeps her high heels on in the apartment, Spencer tells her off, and also mentions how late she is – 7 minutes later than the time he had specified. As the pair sit down for tea, it’s obvious that Spencer is paying more attention to the cutlery at a skewed angle than he is of his lover. Fed up of his compulsive ways, Samantha leaves him to it, but as Spencer soon finds out, being perfect is not always the key to happiness, nor sanity…
In this incredible 18 minute short film from British-American filmmaker, Daniel MacMunn, the subject of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is explored as Spencer struggles to live a life that is nothing less than perfect. I can sympathise in a way, as I struggle to walk past a photograph that is hanging lopsided on the wall, but Spencer takes it to the extreme where it affects his daily life and relationships. His quest for perfection is clearly destroying his life, though he cannot see it, but when things finally come to a head, his perfection gets payback, pushing him onto the brink of a nervous breakdown.
Bill Hoffman stars as Spencer and does a remarkable job at playing the uptight, straight-laced hermit, who refuses to leave his condo in fear of encountering ‘chaos’. His long-suffering girlfriend, played by Rae Foster, represents ‘normality’ and is both frustrated and confused as to why Spencer has adopted this compulsive behaviour. Our heart goes out to her as she must witness the man she once knew and love disappear before her very eyes and turn into someone completely different.
Writer and director Daniel MacMunn clearly has a knack for inventive storytelling and his scripts are realistic to keep the viewer believing in what they’re seeing, particularly on the relationship angle. The cinematography is absolutely stunning and the clever use of shots and visuals, particularly in the later scenes, convey an uneasiness and lurking darkness that creeps under the skin. The style is rather reminscent of The Twilight Zone and the similar British anthology series Tales of the Unexpected, with its sinister undertones. With these two series long gone from our television screens, I predict the inventive A Seat on a Train will fill that void very nicely!
A website for the series has just launched at www.aseatonatrain.com, and the first 5 visitors, who sign into the contact page, will get a free DVD package!
After this amazing opening episode, I look forward to what other tales the seat on the train decides to spill.