INDOOR AIR (2014)
Director: Ron Purtee
Screenwriter: Ron Purtee
Starring: Deann Baker, Brandon Nichols
As is the case with any thriller worth its salt, INDOOR AIR opens with a question. In this case: why does this young woman have a gun? The answer is slowly unveiled across 4 minutes and 36 seconds through a combination of wonderful cinematography, well paced dialogue and the picture’s outstanding score, combining thematic deftness with technical know-how to illustrate the story so effectively that the film fills each of its relatively tiny amount of seconds with intrigue, making for a stirring short thriller.
Set in one room with only two characters – one of whom doesn’t speak and is either a Zombie or otherwise disengaged from reality – cinematographer John Rupe and director Ron Purtee went about establishing the scene as if a visual jigsaw, offering parts of the total picture piece by piece from shot to shot until the very nature of the two characters’ encounter was revealed. This not only brought about a genuine interest in what was being shown but also helped to gift the film with a slow and methodical pace, the effectiveness of which was outstanding.
Working in correspondence with these choices of shots and the ways in which they were edited together was the use of Matt Vollmer’s music as the score. The droning tones of the opening moments were instantly engaging and derivative of the slow pace of the picture, with the development of a subtle melody later in the film corresponding with the introduction of dialogue and the small reveals that came with it. The score in INDOOR AIR was, absolutely, the most masterful of all of the film’s techniques and would not have been out of place in a big budget studio-driven genre film. Director Purtee was obviously appreciative of this, clearly marking the score as a vital piece of his film’s jigsaw puzzle by playing it as a continuous warning as to the severity of the scene that was being played out, removing it only to illustrate the importance of the film’s climactic action.
INDOOR AIR‘s visual and audio prowess was not matched by its distinctly average screenplay which was filled with dialogue that worked only to explain much of what didn’t need to be explained and would have probably served a better purpose on the cutting room floor instead of on the screen. Purtee’s work in this respect was admirable as the filmmaker intended on providing answers to the mystery the rest of his craftsmanship had established, satisfying audiences in the process, but the expository nature of the one-sided exchange did little to advance or enhance the feelings projected by a woman pointing a gun into the face of a man bolted to a wheelchair. In hindsight, INDOOR AIR may have been better served allowing the score and the camera to tell the story.
Enhancing this seemingly below par aspect of the film was the movie’s central actor whose tough job was only enhanced by the screenplay’s need for her to deliver lines. Deann Baker was the centrepiece of the film, with as many as 3/4’s of shots focused on her, and she was tasked with carrying such a high level of emotion in each one that it would have been tough for even the best of actors to truly hit out of the park. The choice to have her deliver dialogue shone a light on this, with the decision to have it delivered directly to the camera an even more testing premise; perhaps the only poor choice of shot in the movie.
Conclusively, INDOOR AIR offered hints at some really impressive talent and, despite its seemingly forced dialogue, did look and feel the part. This was a thriller that needed only 4 minutes and 36 seconds to establish something worthy of emotional investment, an achievement that can’t be overlooked for how truly impressive it is considering the hours and sometimes days that films or TV shows need to do the same. Owing largely to its impressive cinematography, director’s understanding of the genre and its outstanding score, INDOOR AIR is…