Squeeze Toy

In a paranoid nightmare, Adrian runs to escape the scientists who want him for some secret, uspeakable purpose.

Genre: Horror

Length: 8:05

Free To View

3.5 out of 5 stars

Producer/s : Chris K. Daniels,

Director/s : Chris K. Daniels, 

Writer/s : Chris K. Daniels, 

Actor/s : Christian Tabb, Charles Schwager


Corridors of paranoia

A woman screams, and Adrian is pursued along hotel corridors by an evil triad, one mad scientist Halloran, the other two Daft Punk lookalikes. There are editing tricks a-plenty as his thoughts are conveyed by onscreen words like a graphic novel, the aspect ratio changes, objects come in and drop out of focus, he talks to camera, and sounds get distorted. But the tricks aren’t indulgent or merely stylish, they portray Adrian’s paranoia, because (he tells us) Halloran wants him for an untold, unspeakable purpose.

Roy the ranting man enters – or emerges from – Adrian’s mind. Things twist nicely with a realisation that he’s not so much in danger as dangerous himself, as if the hotel is on Shutter Island. And we’re back to the screaming woman.

The effects certainly serve a mood, but not a story. Or at least, not a resolved one. It’s a film in need of a good resolution, a catharsis even, and without it the whole is less than the sum of the parts. Unless, of course, you take the view that the inconclusive end adds to the unsettling madness Squeeze Toy is trying to express.

What about the toy, I hear you ask? It’s one of those things that when you squeeze it, its eyes bulge alarmingly. It’s in the title, it makes a great leitmotif in an early shot, with the woman screaming offscreen for help… then it is relegated to become a background prop. Madness is one thing, but film remains an artifice, and most audiences will crave more controlled structure even for a haunted mind.

Call it experimental. Chris Daniels has been making films for seven years, but he’s only 21, and he’s entitled to experiment.