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FAILURE! [FrightFest 2023]

Written By:

Martin Unsworth

by Martin Unsworth

Writer/director Alex Kahuam’s new feature following the impressively disturbing Forgiveness is an ambitious piece filmed in one continuous shot, which grabs the viewer and doesn’t let go.

James (Ted Raimi) is having a bad day. He’s having massive money problems and is under pressure to sell the family factory or face dire consequences. As various people visit him throughout the day, he’s on a rollercoaster of emotions. To make matters worse, he has his daughter’s upcoming wedding to contend with. As the day unfolds, things spiral more out of control.

Far from being a gimmick, the fluid camerawork (by Ernesto Lomeli) puts us in the centre of an increasingly nightmarish farce. The visuals are nothing, however, without an able cast, whether it’s the motley crew who arrive for a wedding fitting or those who come to negotiate the sale of the business, many of whom have money issues of their own. It’s good to note that the one-shot aspect doesn’t distract from the potent storytelling and the powerhouse performance from Ted Raimi. It does, however, show an immense amount of planning that is executed perfectly.

Where Kahuam’s previous film was a mighty grim affair, there’s plenty of humour in Failure!, albeit of a very dark tone. Raimi appears to be a natural at playing desperate and downbeat, but there are other subtle elements to his character that gives him a surprising depth. It feels like he’s on-screen almost constantly, a big ask when you take into account there couldn’t be any cuts. We can share in his sadness, tension, and anxiety while not approving of the things he does. The stakes we face in real life might not be as high, but we can sympathise with his situation. James is trying his best to do the right thing, but the situation constantly gets out of hand and escalates dramatically. Even though he does a lot of immoral things, he wants to be loyal but is slowly coming to terms with how things are going to roll.

Failure! is a dialogue-heavy film – think a more natural and less showy Tarantino – that’s both engaging and engrossing and deserves a wider audience and shows that the young director has plenty of promise.


Failure! had its world premiere at Pigeon Shrine FrightFest on August 28th.

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