Frightfest: Failure! (2023)

Director: Alex Kahuam

Running Time: 87 Minutes

Starring: Ted Raimi, Merrick McCartha, Noel Douglas Orput, Melissa Diaz, Christin Muuli, Daniel Kuhlman

My review of Failure! was first published at Bloody Good Screen.

Writer/Director Alex Kahuam previously attended Frightfest with his 2021 entry, Forgiveness, which followed three characters through their personal hells across numerous single takes. His follow-up feature one-ups that by showing the entire 87-minute runtime within a single take, reportedly shot without any cuts or tricks. The story follows businessman James (Ted Raimi) who, to avoid financial ruin, must sell his plastics factory that originally belonged to his father.

As he grapples with losing his family’s factory due to past decisions, James is guided by an unknown imaginary man (Noel Douglas Orput) who offers advice. With the film resting on his performance, Raimi effectively captures the warmer side of this father who supports his daughters while trying to mask his cold-blooded tendencies. Despite trying to enjoy the simpler moments in life, he is preoccupied with attempting to redeem himself and his family legacy amidst the massive debt looming over him.

What unfolds within James’ lavish house is a chamber-piece centred around a man struggling to maintain control as his past mistakes catch-up with him. The potential is there for an inescapable terror following a man digging himself further into his issue, yet the execution leaves little tension to be felt. When a desperate co-worker makes himself known as a danger, what should be an unnerving realisation of consequences catching up with James instead feels laboured and unexciting. The single take results in odd decisions, like how actors deliver their lines off-screen for extended periods or how some shots appear shaky due to the camerawork. Outside of a technically impressive method of filmmaking, there is little to this film.