Whenever there is a truly innovating new take in film making there is bound to be copycats. There is a movie from 2009 called Enter the Void that has a dynamic camera were ever shot is constantly changing from first to third person and everything in between. Seeing in theaters was a lifechanging experience and offered a completely different way of using the camera and looking at the world. Submission, on the other hand, showed me how in the wrong hands this inventive use of the camera can become tedious and distracting. Unfortunately, the camerawork is the least of the film’s issues while the story and script exist.
With a slow camera shot drifting down from the sky the film flies through walls and into the back of the head of our main character Shane. We soon find out that he is meeting a woman, and after some explicit sexual dialogue they leave to a nearby hotel to get more “acquainted”. While at the hotel the woman goes to the restroom and after getting tired of waiting for her return Shane goes in to find her dead with a knife and blood everywhere. In a complete panic, Shane tries to figure out why the woman would have killed herself and must try to avoid anyone finding the body before he can solve the mystery. Is this a setup, is Shane crazy, or is something more elaborate and ridiculous going on?
The director Jason Kilroe states in the description that the film was made for around $6000 and for that price the film gets quite a bit done especially with a particularly great body prop. However, there are many moments that just come off as cheap and shortsighted mostly caused by the first-person perspective. The most egregious of these is a green-screened mirror that Shane passes multiple times, done obviously to hide the camera in front of his face. The camera choice is interesting but becomes way too erratic, which I imagine would be a nauseating theatrical experience. If there were more smooth transitions between the first and third-person shots the camerawork could have been seen as inventive and clever, instead of wild and unnecessary.
So after Shane sends a picture of the dead woman to his sister, who apparently works at the personal records bureau, she deduces that the woman is a witness in a case against the mob. With signs pointing to a setup Shane decides to cut off the woman’s head, a calling card of the mafia, and stage it to look like a mob hit. Many convoluted story beats later it turns out, spoilers, that it was an elaborate prank show set up by his girlfriend and sister. If this sounds like an insane out of nowhere reveal, it absolutely is, and Shane releases his and the audiences shared frustration by slitting his throat with a bit of glass.
Unlike many other films, I have seen this is not one that is completely unsalvageable. It has a great concept of an awful cheating man being setup and embroiled in a plot greater than himself but in the end, it is completely squandered. In a story so simple with complicated beats, I am baffled as to why it is an hour-long instead of a tight thirty minutes. With time spent on cleaning the bathroom of blood and an extended scene of him cutting off the woman’s head it just comes across as bloated and shallow. While I wish there was something I could recommend about Submission, I find myself at a loss for words.
You can view the film HERE