The Dark Companion (2011)

Director Darrell C. Hazelrig’s “The Dark Companion” is an odd animal to make out. It’s darkly comedic, but also kind of grim when you think about it. It’s about a world where humans and puppets live beside one another, and drink in the same bars, and yet puppet Howard’s plight can be interpreted in both ways, when you boil it down. Director Hazelrig has a good time toying with this premise of a puppet that realizes it has a sentient hand up its back, and I like where the story inevitably goes.

On the one hand you have what is basically the beginning of mental illnesses for puppets in this world. Hell, the puppets have their vices and their romances, why wouldn’t they have their own mental illnesses? What if the puppets began garnering an illness that allowed them the sight of some form of a sentient ruler that controls their functions? What could they do about it? Would puppets take medication to get rid of the visions? Howard’s own dilemma is eerie and yet kind of funny, as he begins realizing someone is pulling his strings, and there’s no one else around that can see the person in question.

When the vision of a mysterious puppeteer begins disrupting his life, he decides to strike it down. Much of Howard’s own problems can be applied to the human counterparts and their own sense of free will and mental illness. What if humans were aware of some kind of sentient being no one else could see? Would that eliminate any sense of free will? Does it destroy any illusion that we decide our fates? “The Dark Companion” is a very creative and utterly original short drama that opens up a unique world with a demented climax I was bowled over by. Director Darrell C. Hazelrig really is a unique filmmaker I hope to see more from in the future.