Although the subject matter is hopelessly dark and dreary, writer/director Richard Powell’s compelling short film “Worm” has a surprisingly wicked sense of humor, one that may be lost on those who only take this impressive work at face value. The story chronicles the slow and steady mental collapse of a seemingly typical high school English teacher, a man who, as the day progresses, is unable to control the increasingly violent tendencies that careen wildly throughout his chaotic mind. His observations about his students (whom he hates) and the faculty (whom he absolutely despises) are menacing and thoroughly deranged, which, at first, seem to be nothing more than a frustrated man blowing off some steam. However, as the day wears on, the poor bastard’s darker side takes control, and his true nature begins bubbling towards the surface.
Most of the film’s dialogue takes place inside the disturbed brainscape of Geoffrey Oswald Dodd, a teacher who seems to be speeding towards his breaking point. Every student in his classroom is a loathsome, moronic drone, and his bitterness towards their apathetic attitudes is too much for him to handle. Not even his fellow co-workers are immune to his rage; he finds fault with every single person employed by the school, including a poor woman whose mother is undergoing treatment for cancer. At first these musings are somewhat humorous, that is, until you start to realize that Dodd is a completely demented sociopath who is only moments away from putting a bullet in everyone’s skull.
The title, of course, refers to the proverbial worm in the apple, the rotten centerpiece of an otherwise tasty treat. Dodd’s worm is his damaged psyche, the inner voice that persuades him to take action against the people he perceives as a threat to his peace of mind. Robert Powell and producer Zach Green, with the assistance of talented actor Robert Nolan, have crafted a truly remarkable short film, a movie that operates on more levels than most like-minded feature-length endeavors. Dodd’s descent into madness is gradual, natural, and, more importantly, entirely believable. And although some may claim that the story is somewhat anti-climatic, I feel it ended the only way it could. “Worm” is beyond impressive, leaving me anxious to see what these ambitious filmmakers tackle next.
Richard Powell (director) / Richard Powell (screenplay)
CAST; Robert Nolan