Animal’s science-fiction plotline has underlying themes that can be applied to anyone’s life.

Ramez Silyan’s Animal revolves around the inner beast that lies within us all.

When a man (Chris Zylka) wakes up, he finds himself trapped in a white room with only a machine and a camera watching him. The machine gives him everything he needs to survive, but who is providing him with these necessities?

Animal was screened at the Athens International Film + Video Festival in the “SciFri” block of short films. The film had a 1984 or Fahrenheit 451-esque quality about it. It demonstrated a popular theme that “big brother” is always watching. This was evident from the moment Zylka discovered the camera positioned on a machine. Its red, pulsing eye gives the uneasy feeling as if someone were always watching.

Just like an animal, Zylka’s character is trapped in a cage. There are no windows, the door is locked and he is given a bed, toilet and sink — all of the basic necessities that an animal’s cage typically contains. The machine provides Zylka with whatever he wants — things such as cigarettes, matches and alcohol. This provides a great metaphor for the narrative short film. The machine feeds the beast by giving it what it wants even though it is destroying the room.

Zylka, who has appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man, The Leftovers and even Hannah Montana, does a phenomenal job with portraying the frustration he feels about being trapped in the white-washed room. His frustration sparks curiosity in the audience. Why is he being kept inside the room? What has he done to deserve this?

The final shot of the short film brings to light another theme. The focus shifts from a big brother figure to the beast within us all. Animal brings up the age-old theme that everyone has a little bit of evil in them, and what one does with the evil is what is the most telling aspect of that person. Does the person suppress and control the beast, thus hiding the evil that comes along with it? Or do they let that evil control their everyday lives?

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Animal is all about self-reflection and noticing one’s behaviors.It is about recognizing when one makes a mistake or gets angry or frustrated for no reason. Most people have probably experienced a time when they acted irrationally and, looking back on the situation, realized they behaved in an unacceptable or illogical manner. Animal connects to the audience by acknowledging the fact that we all have an animal inside of us waiting to attack, and the sooner we as humans can realize that, the more we can reflect on our decisions.

Rating: 4/5


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