Written and directed by Nathan Alan Bunker, two disgruntled teachers use a Rube Goldberg machine to exact revenge on the people who have wronged them. Starring: Ben Begley, Brendan Jennings, Jerry Marr and Allene Prince.
There are likely countless scenarios in which people have imagined getting revenge on someone who wronged them, whether it’s because of a petty grievance or a life-changing decision but using an intricate maze of random items which ultimately results in an arrow being shot at your hostage, is definitely one of the more inventive options. Opening on the ball bearing traversing its machine is a brilliant way to set the tone, the direction and editing are quick and precise to really focus on the details, bringing in a huge dose of creativity. That’s then nicely balanced out with a dash of comedy as the leads dig at each other for why the ball doesn’t make it to the end and where they went wrong.
Balance is something that this short film does extremely well, it certainly embraces the black comedy themes while never straying from its light-hearted energy, playing with the casual manner in which the characters discuss violent actions. The writing as a whole is superb, it has several different twists to reveal which are all bathed in comedy creating something that’s entertaining, clever and creative. It’s a sharp wit contained within a boyish atmosphere, the characters have a childlike enjoyment of their creation and a vindictiveness that most grown adults thankfully don’t embrace or act upon. It also adds just the right amount of creepy to its leads to direct you to a place where you don’t quite sympathise with them but at the same time, it’s hard to dislike them as their playful energy, despite the violent circumstances, is infectious.
That sharpness and quick pace to the direction and editing is something that continues throughout, it has a brilliantly smooth flowing feel to it that continually keeps moving forward. The choices hit very close to what you might expect from a ‘whodunnit’ film, something with a lively energy that adds a rosy tint to the darkness beneath, which is fun to watch. It’s also well supported by the choices in music, they really add to that playful style and brings out the comedy even further. The performances of Begley and Jennings are genuinely entertaining to watch, they have a great banter and create a very believable friendship. The way they support each other to go through with these dark actions is surprisingly sweet given the violent ends.
Rubes is clever, funny, unexpected and a lot of fun, it really embraces a darker sense of humour while never losing its playful atmosphere. Begley and Jennings give great performances that really push the fantastic writing and their comedic timing is very well done. The direction and editing are quick, sharp and concise, having that style put alongside the comedic nature of the story is a really enjoyable contrast to watch. Watching people get revenge for personal, petty issues is surprisingly satisfying and this film brings that together in a way that’s smart and incredibly creative.