*. Just a campfire ghost story, and I have a feeling it’s one I’ve heard before somewhere. Even the set-up is so old it creaks. If you’re looking for another turn of the screw in 8 minutes that’s expecting a bit much. You know anything bought in that antique shop is going to be cursed. And the old man (Pedro Monteiro) is even given a warning!
*. Just by the way, for various reasons not worth getting into I’ve been doing a lot of jigsaw puzzles myself recently. A number of these come by way of flea markets or yard sales (they are quite expensive if you buy them new). And the percentage chance that a puzzle bought in that store, in that box, still had all the pieces is approaching zero. But of course it’s a magic puzzle so that doesn’t matter. I also think it’s strange that the puzzle doesn’t have a picture on the front of the box, or anywhere else, showing what it’s supposed to be of. That makes it a lot harder, though not impossible, to solve. I have a neighbour who thinks that looking at the picture is somehow cheating, but she’s a bit weird.
*. Of course the real puzzle, given all this, is why the old man wants to buy that puzzle anyway. There are some clues. He seems to live alone but there’s a photo of a younger man and a woman. He and his wife? Then he puts on a record and it plays “We’ll Meet Again.” Does this amount to some kind of death wish? How does one interpret the chiming of the clock? His time is up? And washing his face? A sort of ritual ablution before crossing over? I mean, clearly he doesn’t seem that interested in saving himself from the doom peering over his shoulder.
*. But while I can understand wanting to die so — perhaps to be reunited with his wife but maybe just to put an end to such a dull and lonely existence — why choose such a nasty way to go? Embracing one’s fate is one thing, but this particular fate?
*. I ask these questions because they’re all the puzzle the film has. I liked it and though it was nicely turned out by the Al-Safar brothers (Basil and Rashad), but I wouldn’t call it scary, suspenseful, suggestive, or surprising. I’d say it’s made for the campfire but I think we have to update that reference to the Internet. Short films are for browsing, and I’m not sure how much that changes our response to them. The world of doing jigsaw puzzles while a record plays in the background belongs to another age entirely. Can we still relate? With so many windows open, how concerned are we by the bogeyman appearing in one?