Desperate? Defeated? Depressed?

WARNING: This film contains mature content relating to suicide and depression.

A downtrodden carpet cleaner calls a suicide prevention hotline, but the operator may not have his best interest at heart.

Director’s Vision

In Shock Value, film critic Jason Zinoman’s history of the horror genre in the 1970s, there is a chapter titled, “The Problem With Psycho.” Zinoman suggests that the filmmakers of New Hollywood felt that Alfred Hitchcock ruined an otherwise great film by explaining away the warped psychology of Norman Bates in the film’s last scene:

“Much of the movie attempted to see life through the eyes of a psychotic, but when the police caught Norman and locked him in a room for questioning, Hitchcock returned to a more comforting point of view–the safety of a diagnosis from the medical establishment. By contrast, most New Horror directors thought that ambiguity and confusion are not only scarier than certainty, but also reflect the reality of a world where the Vietnam War and Watergate are in the headlines.”

Since then, the headlines haven’t improved. They are certainly no less confusing. More than wars and political cover-ups, which feel straightforward by comparison, we now must make sense of mass shootings, commonplace cyber bullying, livestreamed violence, and a global wave of dictatorship. People have always treated each other poorly, but never before has it been on such spectacular display. But what is at the heart of all this human cruelty?

“Desperate? Defeated? Depressed?” is about the banality of evil. It looks at the bemused boredom and resentful loneliness often hiding underneath an act of sadism. It hints at what might motivate these seemingly senseless acts of aggression, at why people poke each other with sticks, but it also understands that any truthful explanation will be inherently ambiguous.