After an extensive run on the festival circuit Alice Waddington’s debut film, Disco Inferno, has made its way to the general public; now available through Amazon and Vimeo On Demand. It’s not often that a director gets the ability to showcase their debut – let alone one that also happens to be a 12-minute short – in front of 63 individual, international festival audiences. Not to mention, being awarded on 10 separate occasions on top of those 63 inclusions. What’s even better is the fact that those 10 awards amongst 63 inclusions are justifiable considering the talent on display within those 12 minutes.
Waddington makes great use of that short runtime by packing in a host of styles and genres that seamlessly transition between each other to present a cohesive piece. Within her Mephistopheles-centered narrative, Waddington is able to adorn it darkness with comedy, silent film aspects, mystery and intrigue, and even a musical number to name a few. Across the array of stylings and sensibilities Waddington could have easily chosen to travel down any one of these paths but instead chooses to navigate between them displaying a certain versatility with her talents as none of these genre/style shifts appear out of place, all are fully incorporated and blended together.
The attention to detail in the film’s production design, costuming and art direction, which is presented through crisp black and white cinematography from Antonio J. Garcia, remains a constant throughout which, perhaps, enables the genre-shifting to work so well; especially since every single facet of the film can be considered aesthetically appealing in its presentation. With its gothic-gilded opulence, Disco Inferno seems to harken backs to the past as its’ set and overall production design plays just as much of a vital role as its actors and script. Every component that graces the screen appears to be exactly where it’s supposed to be to ensure maximum visual appeal.
The aforementioned black and white cinematography works well in providing a striking contrast between the shadows and the black-clad sleuthing of Mephistopheles (played by Ana Rujas) with the whiteness of the goat-headed robes and their sacrificial rituals. Whether in its tableau staging of decadence or within the more action-oriented sequences the black and white photography creates a certain atmosphere and mood which complements and enhances the film. Incidentally, it also aides in masking some of the computer-generated effects that are employed which isn’t to say that they are bad because they are unexpectedly impressive but that their flaws are difficult to discern given the color palette.
I have said it before and I’ll say it again: Alice Waddington needs to be making features. And, not just any features but feature-lengths with significant budgets and, more importantly, full creative control because she damn well proved herself more than capable of success within the limited confines of 12 minutes. As for any would-be lobbed critique or complaint centered on a perception of style-over-substance, those should be met dismissively with a curt utterance of “so?”