The Night Shift: Dependents

BY Scott A. GrayPublished Jun 5, 2012

Dealing with issues of reliance, Dependents approaches the needs of parents and their offspring with a genre filter appropriate for the Night Shift.

Requiem For A C.H.U.D. immediately demands attention with contrasting musical themes of bouncy, off-kilter folk and its classical equivalent. Above ground, a farmer and his pregnant wife accidentally run over a small creature. Turns out, it was a demon baby, whose flesh-eating momma is mighty pissed and seeking retribution. That's not half as weird as the touching (for weirdoes) song form love letter from a young woman to her intended future granddaughter. It's sent to let her know that it's okay to be an odd duck, and probably to embarrass her a bit.

Odette comes from France and features an affluent family having a nihilistic dinner conversation after the patriarch confesses to losing his job. They all begin to bitch and moan about their wasted, pampered lives, eventually even insulting the meal their lovely grandmother, the titular Odette, prepared for them, so caught up are they in their self-absorbed tirades. How granny reacts to that affront to basic respect is a thing of cathartic beauty for anyone who's ever identified with the urge to go postal.

Ctin! is a more mysterious and obtuse offering. An assembly of freaky people eat pea soup erratically, each engaged in a compulsive and harmful loop of behaviour while a bandaged man looks confused and tries to feed himself through the gauze. The scene grows increasingly vicious and chaotic until the man escapes, only later learning the nature of his connection to the familiar mad scientist holding him captive.

While the mystery of Ctin! is revealed in its resolution, The Captured Bird is less obvious in its intent. A girl drawing on the sidewalk with chalk notices a trail of murky water and follows it to an enormous mansion where strange blue slime creatures lure her in. Since her parents don't notice her wander off, it views as a cautionary tale about minding your brood?

Ghost is more narratively straightforward. A recently deceased girl wakes up a spirit and navigates her way through the netherworld version of her town, drawn by her parents' need for comfort.

To wrap up this program, we have a couple of stabs at the ever-popular zombie market. Children of the Dark is basically a variation on The Road meets The Walking Dead, without the time to develop any character relationships or greater themes. The Unliving, on the other hand, is an effective spin on the genre, and the parent-child relationships at the centre of this program. In a world where society has adjusted to a zombie outbreak, utilizing the undead as slave labourers to meet the demands of economic growth, a zombie-tagger (so they can be properly processed, identified and assigned duties) finds one of his charges to be his long missing mother and commits a big no-no by smuggling her back to his house where his zombie-catcher wife is none too pleased.

The filmmakers create a detailed environment and the metaphor of zombies as the openly exploited lower class is an effective one. Dependents is largely dependable viewing.

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