Childhood friends Ian and Tim slowly realize that they’ve wasted their lives selling popcorn and participating in medical testing. Their hometown is a surreal nightmare, but they’re too bored to notice.

Ian and Tim are two childhood friends who live in the bizarrely mundane town of Moreno Valley and spend their days and nights dreaming about actually finding meaning in the world. ‘Inland Empire’, a film created by the leading actors Ian Abramson (Come F*ck My Robot) and Tim Barnes, and directed by Zane Rubin, is a story about the steadiness of the suburbs, despite all the craziness.

It’s a fever dream about becoming an adult against your will

We wanted to make a movie about what it felt like where we grew up. When you grow up in a place as weird and desolate as the Inland Empire, you can either run headfirst into a dead end job like construction or accounting or get lost in dreams of a more exciting world. It’s an exploration of friendship and ambition in a part of the country that history has forgotten. Bizarre mysteries unfold before you, but the main characters barely seem to notice. It’s a fever dream about becoming an adult against your will, in a world where health insurance, and good credit seem as fictional as aliens or superpowers.

In writing the short and working with Zane as director and the production team at JASH, we tried to capture the mood and feeling the Inland Empire gave us more than the realistic details. But the lady drinking the milk is real and she’s our best friend.

Starting with its retro-inspired intro, the film is quick to catch our attention. Despite the lack of grasping and twisting events we typically look for in short films, Inland Empire enchants us with its subtleties and unique tone. The shocking moments are there, you just have to look for them. The incredible performances by Ian and Tim just keeps the story in balance in that surreal state, with Zane’s direction sharply following the particular flow.