— by CAM SMITH —
Gadzooks, this sure has been a big year for debut directors making splashy debuts with expanded full-length adaptations of their earlier shorts.
While the most prominent and popular example came in the form of Neill Blomkamp, whose “District 9” — a fleshed-out version of his six-minute “Alive in Joburg” film — earned giddy raves from critics and tears of gratitude from fanboys, 2009 also marked the significant arrivals of both Shane Acker, who stretched his animated Oscar-nominee “9” to feature-size, and Mike Dougherty, whose insta-cult DVD hit “Trick ‘r Treat” was spawned from his student cartoon short “Seasons Greetings.”
Filmmaker Alex Merkin appears to be the next aspiring auteur stepping up to the plate, with an embiggened revision of his short “Across the Hall” — a noirish thriller starring “Cloverfield’s” Mike Vogel, Brittany Murphy and Danny Pino.
Trailer Addict has just posted a 12-minute behind-the-scenes featurette detailing the production’s considerable efforts in creating a suitably creepy hotel, as well as some notable tidbits focussing on casting and Merkin’s vision and aspirations.
To the clip’s detriment, however, it doesn’t exactly tell us much about what the film is actually about. We get few flashes of moody style — not to mention a considerable number of shots of dudes yelling and bathing — and not a whole lot more.
According to a synopsis posted up by the helpful people at Worst Previews, the plot apparently is thus: A quiet night takes a dangerous turn when Julian (Vogel) receives a frantic phone call from his best friend, Terry (Pino). Terry claims to have followed his unfaithful fiancee, June (Murphy), to a seedy hotel on the other side of town. To make matters worse, he’s staked out the room across the hall from her, a bottle of whiskey in one hand and a revolver in the other. Julian pleads with his friend to stay put while he rushes to avert disaster.
The premise sounds refreshingly clear-cut and simple, and could act as a great spring-board for a memorable flick, if handled with the right amount of panache.
With a limited-release scheduled to begin Dec. 4, we don’t have to wait very long until we can determine if Merkin’s name will be another exciting addition to this year’s list of success stories.
Follow Cam Smith on Twitter at http://twitter.com/camspcepisodes.