Slamdance 2022: Be Right Back

Written by Anna Harrison


“Be Right Back,” directed by Frauke Havemann, lasts barely over an hour—you could feasibly tell someone you would “be right back,” watch “Be Right Back,” and be considered only slightly rude when you reappeared 76 minutes later—but feels an eternity (though perhaps that was due to my having to break up the movie across two nights). Centered around a group of four living in an abandoned vacation resort, “Be Right Back” takes a premise that is ripe for drama and unsettlement and turns it into… well, nothing, really.

Though the premise contains no small amount of promise, I could hardly tell you what happens outside of the movie synopsis provided to me. Someone new comes along, making the four number five, and apparently this causes a disruption, though how I could not tell you. There’s a lot of hullabaloo around the nearby forest (don’t watch if you have a phobia of ants), though why I could not tell you. Some of the characters begin to act more strangely, though who I could not tell you. (The woman who plays Scrabble by herself continues to do so, but in a more erratic fashion, I suppose? Though she never seemed that stable to begin with.)

It’s visually appealing, but not so arresting that it transports you from your bedroom couch, and the actors are good, but not so good that they prevent your mind from wandering. It’s a movie that demands patience, despite its short runtime, and then does little to reward it; whatever revelations you were hoping to see, be prepared to be disappointed. The one character who really seems changed by the whole thing is the one with the least amount of screentime, and the apparent disruptor barely does anything at all except whisper to trees. In fact, the whole thing is so unremarkable aside from a handful of strong shots from cinematographer Joji Koyama that I’m unable to write even a full page on the film, a remarkable feat for someone as in love with hearing themself speak as I am.

I am sure there are subtleties and deeper meanings I missed as I kept glancing at my phone to gauge how much time I had to slog through, but even so, isn’t the fact that I had to struggle to keep my attention on the screen to begin with damning in and of itself?

“Be Right Back” is playing at the 2022 Slamdance Film Festival.

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