Great short films give the audience a taste of a director’s style, ability, and their worldview, and Autopilot (2020) is a short film that does this successfully (watch it here). From MadSin Cinema, Autopilot is a film that is anything but robotic or mechanical, it uses unique cinematography to create a surreal atmosphere. Visually, the short film is impressive for being shot on a cheap LG cell phone.
The way Autopilot is shot is truly something special — by using rapid imagery and neon lighting the appearance is often like a stop motion movie. The fog created a hazy look which, coupled with the lighting’s movement, produced a dreamlike atmosphere as if the audience is somehow watching the inside of the character’s mind from the outside.
In Autopilot, a young woman (Kade Tabin) is alone in her apartment, sheltering in place due to the pandemic. Left with only her thoughts and not much to do around her apartment, the young woman spends her time staring in the mirror, eating tv dinners, and drawing. The routine seems to drive her to some kind of madness, one that involves being soaked in blood.
Autopilot may be a little too artsy for its own britches, as the inner workings of the protagonist’s mind are not fully expressed, or at least, it was lost on me even after multiple viewings. I get that there is some kind of descent into madness, but the film doesn’t show why, it just shows the result, and as a result, I didn’t feel like I was along for the ride with the character. Was it boredom from quarantine? And if it is from the monotony, these are some pretty gruesome images to use to express such a trivial emotion.
It seemed like Autopilot wanted to be ugly, aesthetically, just for the sake of being ugly. Though it did produce some cool imagery with a couple of shots even reminding me of one of my favorite horror movies, The Descent (2005), it seemed like it was trying too hard without getting any point across. I think though Autopilot looks great, it is missing some needed substance to its narrative and it seems like the internal dialogue for its filmmaking process was “Fashion, but make it ugly”.
MOVIE RATING — 6 out of 10 ☠️