2551.01 (2021)

Director: Norbert Pfaffenbichler
Writer: Norbert Pfaffenbichler
Cast: Stefan Erber, David Ionescu
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 27.9.2021

In an underground world of tunnels and masked people, a man with the head of a monkey finds a little child with a sack over their head in trouble. He helps the kid – and after that, the kid doesn’t let go of him anymore, no matter how much he tries to shake them off.

I was really quite taken with 2551.01, an experimental SciFi with a comedic touch that has its very own style. It’s really not something you get to see everyday.

The film poster showing a yellow-tinted image of a table set for a feast, but one in rather destitute shape surrpunded by strange people. Below it is a purple-tinted image of a child wearing a sack over their head, cradling a doll.

2551.01 (2551 being the zip code of where the film was shot and 01 referring to the fact that this is the first part of a planned trilogy) is a loose adaptation of Chaplin’s The Kid which is probably the reason why it is much funnier and has a much more comprehensible plot than I expected from its being an experimental film. Not that the plot is much to write home about, but it does help to guide you through the film’s world – and the world it created is really what makes the film special.

It’s a visually engaging world, with plenty of strangeness to outright surrealism. Like the fact that the protagonist has a monkey head (a really excellent mask that really impressed me) which is never really commented upon. As is never commented that he seems to be practically the only person not wearing a mask in the film. Those other masks are a little less impressive because they aren’t made to look realistic like the ape mask, but they create a really good atmosphere.

A man with the head of a monkey looking at a little skeleton doll.

It’s also what keeps the film from feeling too exploitative when it leans on certain “freakshow” tropes and elements, especially since there aren’t any disabled people in the film as far as I could tell. The surrealism of it kept it from simply recreating ableism, at least in my book.

Generally the film is an aesthetic experience, both visually and auditively, and I’m really looking forward to seeing part 2. From what I gather, I still have to wait for a bit though – they are shooting it at the moment.

A head wearing a mask stitched together haphazardly from very different parts.

Summarizing: very interesting.

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