Published Jun 17, 2009Centred upon notions of duplicity and illusion, What You See is Not What You Get is nonetheless a safe bet, as far as satisfying filmmaking goes. The clear standout of the collection, "The Last Breath," isolates the one good idea featured in last year's The Happening — people dropping dead out of nowhere — and gets far more mileage out of the 11-minute running time than the aforementioned film did in nearly two hours.
A family on a scuba vacation realizes when they emerge from the water that there is no longer any available oxygen on the surface. As they frantically search in vain for help, one by one their oxygen tanks start running out. The concept allows the film to be naturally thrilling. The format is a blessing because the viewer doesn't have enough time to care about the logistics of the missing air or the fruitless efforts of the family to save themselves. If British director David Jackson can bring this type of intensity to a feature, there could be a new horror master in the works.
The German "The Hunter and the Bear (Der jäger und der bär)" and the U.S. "Pencil Face" are the animated contributions to the program, once again displaying warmth and accessibility sure to be appreciated by viewers. Particularly enchanting, "Hunter" uses a sweeping Sigur Rós track to buoy the story of an Icelandic hunter and his surprising encounter with the bear he stalks.
"The Refuge" also tells a rich story utilizing minimum dialogue, with a French-Canadian tourist falling for a poor Mexican. Over time, he brings her to Montreal to live with him and they struggle with distrust and a language barrier, with the fate of their relationship left only to their perceptions. Émile Proulx-Cloutier is able to capture wrenching moments of vulnerability in mere seconds.
"Pawnshop," which immediately follows, helps close out the program with a crusty pawn shop owner tricking his customer into following his heart; the latest in a variety of lessons learned via the morals explored in the program.