Tim of the Jungle

By Nasos Gatzoulis | Drama
A teenage boy with dysfunctional parents tries to compose a horror soundtrack.

High school student Tim has a deadline for a music score he’s composing for a friend’s terrible horror film, and his friend keeps haranguing him to complete it. But his mentally imbalanced father and his needy mother — and their heated fights and marital discord — keep interrupting him, until tensions boil over and come to a head.

Writer-director Nasos Gatzoulis’s memorably artful drama short turns domestic chaos and emotional violence into a surreal horror movie, rendered in heightened, sometimes distorted black-and-white reminiscent of film noir, German Expressionism or even the early films of David Lynch. There are touches of levity, but they’re intermingled with anger and confusion, making for a tonally complex film with a strong directorial vision.

The build-up of increasingly fractured sounds and the pacing of the tension escalates perfectly, capturing the pressures that render Tim helpless and powerless in his own home. His parents’ marriage is falling apart, and no matter how much he tries, they keep pulling him into the middle of it.

When Tim finally reaches his moment of catharsis, it upends traditional expectations, leaving the familial dynamic unresolved and Tim’s own peace of mind in question. But the almost primal power behind Tim’s final utterance is well-earned — and easily relatable, especially after spending an evening with this very dysfunctional family.

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