I found Kimmy Gatewood’s “Control” to be pretty fucking excellent, and it’s probably one of my favorite short films of the “Final Girls Berlin Film Festival” so far. The premise is genius and her short brought me back and forth from grinning to tisking in sheer sadness; let’s just say I related to her creation more than I thought. While the premise has every chance to be exploitative and played for cheap laughter, there’s an inherent sadness underneath every moment, and it’s more poignant, in the end.
Alison Becker plays a young woman who wakes up one night and has decided to commit suicide. As she readies her suicide note, she tears it up and writes another one, then she tears that one up and writes another. Unsatisfied she shreds the notes, and turns to her laptop to complete the process. Director Gatewood’s “Control” has a wonderful premise to it that relies on Becker’s character who is so Obsessive Compulsive and a complete neat freak that she has to control literally everything in her life. She even has to control her suicide, the circumstances of her suicide, and how everyone in her life will react and respond after she’s died.
“Control” unfolds with zero dialogue, and much of Becker’s character is explored through the way she controls her environment and reacts to everything around her. There’s a lot of exposition with how she enacts her suicide, from the labeling of her furniture to the names she writes down when labeling certain items. Maybe she has a lot of people in her life and feels all alone. Maybe she doesn’t have anyone at all. Maybe the Obsessive Compulsion is what’s driving her to commit suicide. Maybe it’s all a part of her sickness.
Whatever the case may be this is clearly a woman who is terrified of losing one iota of grip on her life, and she’s decided to relinquish everything with one swift act based on emotions and mental illness. When it comes to mental illness no matter how much we think we have a handle on the world, we often feel like everything is chaotic and absolutely haywire. “Control” is a powerful, excellent statement about mental illness and how sometimes those we think have everything in control are often the ones who need the most help.
The Final Girls Berlin Film Festival runs every year from January 31st to February 3rd.