As most of you probably know by now, strange and quirky films are essential here at Cinema Smack. The art of filmmaking allows opportunities for people to experience things onscreen that they never could in real life. Our friends over at Count the Clock, the Los Angeles based artist collective, have been producing work that absolutely excels at being strange and quirky. Their new short film, Mandy the Plumber, is visually different from some of their other work but still maintains that trademark Count the Clock feel with plenty of weirdness to appease anybody.
Our first exposure to Count the Clock was a short film entitled The Ball. It’s an excellent film written by Michael Coe from a story by director Zach Lorkiewicz. Both contributed to the collective’s C10 Pop Art Gallery and then collaborated on their Pop Horror Made Me Do It visual album. Most recently, the two released a short music video, Who Killed the Homecoming Queen?, where Coe composed the music with Lorkiewicz directing. For Mandy the Plumber, the second installment into their Monsters playlist on YouTube, the duo join forces once more. With this film, they bring to us something unique, strange, and, in typical Count the Clock fashion, just plain cool.
The film begins with a young woman named Damantha (Allie Hagen) receiving a phone call in which she confirms that she’s waiting for a plumber to arrive. The doorbell rings after she hangs up and the bespectacled Mandy (Michael Coe) emerges from the shadows outside. Following a leaky pipe diagnosis, Damantha’s doorbell rings again and another Mandy appears. The new Mandy insists that the first one is an imposter which leads to confusion and fear for Damantha as things spiral out of control.
Consisting of only two actors, Mandy the Plumber provides two very solid characters. Allie Hagen’s Damantha gives off a sweet and naive vibe before appearing confused and even frightened following the realization that there are two Mandys. Though, she has some of her own weirdness to contribute to the situation by the film’s end. However, the real standout of the film is Michael Coe as Mandy. Complete with an “ugly, pathetic outfit” and “tacky, disgusting haircut,” Coe grabs your attention immediately. His facial expressions and reactions to himself as duplicate characters are as humorous as they are outlandish. In addition, Coe’s Mandy says and does bizarre things that keep you wondering what you’re watching. This may sound like a negative but it’s actually the appeal of the film.
In addition to some good performances and a curious story, Mandy the Plumber also has some great original music. Like the film itself, the music is playful and fun with moments of suspense and even horror. Another Count the Clock contributor, Catherine Yang, provides the soundtrack for the film under the pseudonym Shyyness. Yang’s contributions to the C10 Pop Art Gallery were also from her Shyyness project. Most of Count the Clock’s work does feature musical accompaniment and, as usual, Yang’s music works great here. One thing that’s a bit different than most of the collective’s other work is in its lack of vivid colors. The film boasts a much plainer palette with black and white being the predominant colors. This isn’t really a negative as Mandy the Plumber still looks great but it’s definitely a departure.
The one thing that may turn viewers off is the film’s nonsensical and absurd story. For some, Mandy the Plumber will lure you in and simply take you on a ride. For others looking for something more concrete, you certainly won’t get it here. Like much of Count the Clock’s art, viewers are left to take from it what they will. The story nor the characters are the least bit straightforward despite their likability. The film leaves much up to interpretation and viewers can choose how much or how little they decide to analyze everything. Again, the film won’t guide you through its ideas but it will offer up topics of discussion for you to decipher yourself.
As has been mentioned in all of our past coverage of Count the Clock, their work isn’t for everyone. Again, the word “strange” perfectly sums up most of it. For those who enjoy something a little different, all of their art is definitely worth checking out. Although Mandy the Plumber may not be as memorable or infectious as something like The Ball, it’s still a great little piece of short cinema. As a viewer, sometimes you just want to watch something for fun and Mandy the Plumber is just that. It’s fun. It may mess with your brain a little by its end but that’s most of its charm as well.
Check out the full short film below.