Written and directed by Richard Powell
Produced by Zach Green
Starring Robert Nolan, Kimberley Curran
Cinematographer: Brendan Uegama
Location Sound: Adam Clark
Soundscape by Bernie Greenspoon
Post Sound Editing by George Flores
A day in the mind of Geoffrey Oswald Dodd, a seemingly kind, gentle and sane high school teacher. As we follow Geoffrey through the course of a typical school day we gain an eerie insight into the darkest corners of his soul and beyond. Beneath the carefully constructed veneer of Geoffrey Dodd lies something wretched, insidious and foul rotting him from the inside out.
Sitting in his car scratching lottery tickets, we find our protagonist, Geoffrey Dodd (Nolan), preparing himself for yet another day of being a high school teacher. My empathy was flowing based solely on his profession. As his day starts, we find all the normal high school trappings we would expect, but we also find out some very dark things about Mr. Dodd’s day-to-day life.
Dodd’s eyes wash across his students, enveloping all he sees in venomous hatred and sweeping discontent. Dodd doesn’t see the vigor and possibility of youth, the dreaming minds capable of anything they desire, Dodd sees the mundane, the below average, the stupid and simple; Dodd sees the physical faces of his suffering. None of them are special in his mind, the future McDonald’s employees of the month if they’re lucky. He grades papers with a vindictive flair, using the ‘ol red Sharpie like it’s a knife drawing crimson strands of his students’ blood.
Robert Nolan knows his strengths. Just from viewing this and Familiar (my review), it’s clear that Nolan is a very cerebral actor. These roles call for both the protagonist and actor to engage a sense of darkened synergy, otherwise these roles are simply roles; one-dimensional words on a page and read by an actor. Nolan embraces this dark synergy with such refreshing passion. You would think it’s difficult for a writer, director, or actor to accurately flesh out the life and motivation of these characters in a short film, but Worm is absolutely perfect.
Not content to hate just his students, Dodd shares similar feelings for his coworkers. Whether it’s the nit-picking actions of the teacher tasked with collecting his past-due lottery ticket money or Patricia, the office teacher, asking him too many questions as he works on his novel in the teacher’s lounge. Patricia, (Kimberley Curran) is the only other character in Worm that has any real dialogue with Dodd, and delivers a quick burst of subdued intensity all her own as she describes her mother’s slow death from cancer. Nolan mentioned to me that Curran actually suggested him as the lead in Worm. Curran obviously sees the hidden genius that Nolan possesses.
There’s more to Worm than I’ve taken the time to write about. We still have a artfully crafted letter extolling a forbidden love for his student, Lillian (Samantha Nemeth), yet another Nolan box cutter scene that takes place in the confines of a bathroom stall, and lastly, growing insanity that is cut short by the shrill sound of a school bell signaling the end of class. Nolan dives freely into dark waters in the climax of the film, I feel it would be unfair to give it all away. You can sweat for yourself when you find out what Mr. Dodd keeps in his briefcase.
Worm is a fantastic short, a medium people like Nolan are quickly making me a bigger fan of. Nolan’s performance as the insidious, Geoffrey Dodd is a solid A+. Full of overpowering discontent and hidden hatred, Nolan once again gets extra credit for his work in Worm.
Stay tuned for an interview with Robert Nolan himself, soon gracing the pages of Left Hand Horror!
You can learn more about Mr. Nolan through his various websites: