Austin Film Festival (AFF)Written and directed by Lindsay Thomas Robinson, Central Dental is a short movie that has had the honor of being an official selection at numerous film festivals since its premiere and is now showing at the 2021 Austin Film Festival. Most notably, Central Dental offers style as well as social commentary, creating an otherworldly monster based upon contemporary fears.

One man’s night goes from bad to worse when he is mugged and then wakes up to find one of his teeth was knocked out. As his kind of luck would have it, a beacon of hope in the form of an illuminated sign reading “Central Dental” appears, offering him service upfront while his payment on the surgery can be taken care of later. He is unknowingly put under an anesthetic that prevents him from feeling pain and from moving, putting him at the mercy of a beautiful dentist and her assistant named Ronnie.

Writer/director Lindsay Thomas Robinson is a brilliant storyteller who creates a Lynchian atmosphere by hiding sinister happenings and evilness beneath seemingly wholesome surfaces, both with her characters as well as with the setting of Central Dental itself. The black and white coloring added to the film’s surreal atmosphere by making it all seem like an unconscious fevered dream, but the horrors of Central Dental are all too real, all of which culminated in an unexpected climax.

Central Dental‘s dental office setting is both inviting but disconnected and clinical, which is a great way to characterize the American healthcare system. The film delivers social commentary on the vulturous nature of this system, where the patient vs healthcare provider relationship becomes muddled, in the case of this film with blood, as care is given, but, careless tactics are used to provide said care. Writer/director Robinson may deliver the overarching message in a very blunt manner, but the premise is excellent even without a clever twist and the tension that had been built up from start paid off with its monstrous ending.

Central Dental delivers biting social commentary on the U.S. healthcare system without coming off as political — it was designed to play off the real-life fears of painful dental exams as well as the fear of medical debt. It is because of the needs-based relationship of patients and healthcare providers that people are obligated to pay an arm and a leg just to exist in the world, and with the elegant style of Lindsay Thomas Robin, this turn of phrase is manifested into a graphic image that makes this movie both gory as well as existentially horrifying.

Central Dental reviewed as part of our Austin Film Festival (AFF) coverage.

 

7 out of 10

 

Central Dental
RATING: NR
Runtime: 10 Mins.
Directed By:
Written By: Lindsay Thomas Robinson

 

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About the Author

Adrienne Reese is a fan of movies - the good, the bad, and the ugly - and came to the horror genre by way of getting over her fear of... everything. Adrienne also writes for the Frida Cinema, and in addition to film enjoys cooking, Minesweeper, and binge-watching Game of Thrones.
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