Kids today harass, brawl, belt, smash and grab. It’s time for an old man to teach these yobbos a lesson.
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Producer/s : Massimiliano Sappa, Sarah Power
Director/s : Massimiliano Sappa,
Writer/s : Massimiliano Sappa,
Actor/s : Peter McAllum, Caleb Alloway
Elder and Better
He’s not a nice man, the nameless guy this film opens on. It’s not that he’s wrong, as he complains about the lack of respect, kindness, sympathy and neighbourliness he sees around him. It’s his snarl. His disgust. His anger at youth he doesn’t understand “pounding away at whatever you call that stupid thing, PING PING,” a his finger jabs his palm.
“You”? Oh dear, he’s talking to someone. Glad it’s not me. Glad I’m not one of the two youths tied up on the garage floor. Today’s subject is Respect, and he’s going to teach them the basics. Maybe the boys are louts, but he’s a fully paid-up psychopath.
20 seconds in, before the titles, and the tension is higher than most gritty feature films generate in an hour.
Writer/director Max Sappa doesn’t put a foot wrong as he builds up the threat. The guy’s wife and kid were hit in a hit-and-run “by animals like you.” We see the syringes he holds behind his back. One of the boys almost gets away. Almost, but not quite. Probably better not to have tried – the guy was only going to kill one of them, to convince the other he’s not messing. As if.
Respect 101 is as taut a short as you could wish for. Even in the last minute there are not one, not two, but three twists in the story, one of which turns it upside down.
Let’s give a nod to the sound recording – normally an unsung craft – by Rhys Webb, for eliminating the echo that the location must have been prone to. The camera uses angles well, closing in on the youths’ terrified eyes, and giving glimpses of something in the background. And Peter McAllum as the pyscho-dad, superbly making him both fearsome, and yet somehow powerless.