Spout Mavens Disc #14, Part 10 of 13: Shorts! Volume 3 - The Fridge [To Psigio] (2004)

Director: George Siougas
Greece, 24 minutes, color
Cinema 4 Rating: 7

I have spent a shocking number of minutes the last few days recounting the trials of living with a handful of my roommates from past days. These roommates are, for the most part and as far as I can surmise, still friends, and thus, I shall not detail in such a public place the names and antics of said possible "still-friends." I will save those tales for a time when said stories directly tie in with whatever subject about which I am writing, or if I am just really good and pissed off at them.

By "recounting," I mean that I was engaged in a series of conversations with random current friends of mine, wherein certain items were brought up by them, which then reminded me of an anecdote involving this old story or that past occurrence, and all of them, for some odd reason, involved things that happened when mired (ooh, perhaps too strong a word considering I have been so careful up to this point) in cohabitation with those mostly "still-friends." This was not purposeful, though it could possibly point to some form of repressed... something... bubbling ever so slightly below the surface of which I was not aware until I watched The Fridge tonight.

The next film in my epic meandering through the Shorts! Volume 3 DVD set, The Fridge is a Greek film short whereupon one's enjoyment of it entirely depends on how you like your horror-comedies served to you. If you like them sick, gory and cruel, then please depart the premises. The Fridge might lead you down the path towards thinking it will turn sharply at any moment in that direction. But, buyer of this appliance of simmering evil, much like in the movie, beware! This film is top-loaded with an almost mid-period Spielbergian or early, early Burtonian whimsy, like it wandered out of a Greek version of Amazing Stories or Eerie, Indiana. In fact, the film's 24-minute running length would actually suit its use on such a show, and if I found out it had been used thusly, it wouldn't surprise me one bit.

At its center, not counting the demonic refrigerator with the clawed-arm handle and the eerie orange-glowing light in the taloned grip sitting atop it, is one of those Puck-style (and by this I refer to The Real World, not Shakespeare) spiky-blond roommates that gets on everyone's nerves just by breathing too loud in the adjacent room. Upon reflection, to those former roommates of mine who may or may not be "still-friends," I might have portrayed this style of roommate. The problem in being on either end of these miseries of coexistence is that one never really considers that when you blow up at something they did, on their side of things, one of their pet peeves concerning you might be that you blow up at everything they do. And vice-versa versa-vice ad nauseum stick a cork in it fuck you i'm gonna kick your ass try it asshole crash boom smash whew hey let's go get a beer what the hell was that all about i don't know. Then everything is fine until the next time someone's leftovers go missing.

Such behavior lies at the heart of this quite unsubtle and very silly exercise in over-the-top fantasy filmmaking. For unknown reasons, a shabbily dressed man frantically wheels a magnet-covered refrigerator to a spot at the end of a very open alleyway. The man then runs away in fear, desperately looking over his shoulder. The horns blare on the soundtrack in the manner to which he have become accustomed when something in the realm of great danger looms ahead for us in the film. We then meet that spiky-blond slacker, George, who eats out of the tiny fridge in his shared flat like a coyote who has discovered a carcass on a freeway, with one eye constantly over his shoulder, ready to bolt at the slightest sign of any of his three roommates. With the fridge being so small, despite George's attempts to remove any and all edibles from it posthaste, the roommates are fed up with it, and they decide that George is the one to take their pooled cash (he doesn't want to throw in) and get a bigger, better model.

Of course, given the opening, George will be the one to discover the fridge in the alley, which may or may not be possessed or actually be some form of demonic creature, keep the cash for himself, and pass the thing off as a new purchase. I am unsure of the prevalence of refrigerators in either Greece or in Europe in general for having handles in the shape of the devil's forearm, or of having that orange-glowing ball thing in a demon's grip looming like the Eye of Sauron atop it, but the roommates don't seem to notice anything odd. All is peachy as far as they concerned... until things start to happen.

And all of them happen to George. Food goes missing, and he gets the blame; he can't open the door, but then the roommates can easily, and then when he tries again, he can't; he hears a noise behind the machine, tries to fix it, the machine shuts down, everything melts, and he gets the blame and towel with which to clean it up. If you smell the words "battle of the wills" floating around the corner like a five-day old, room temperature club sandwich, then you would win the last Red Bull in the fridge (frankly, you can have the goddamn stuff...)

The Fridge is not all that original an entertainment -- as much in the way of genre fare goes, there are basic tropes which cry out to be followed, even by those who would subvert genre -- but entertain it squarely does. Somehow, it even manages to make a thieving schlub like George seem completely sympathetic. It helps that you will hate his roommates as much they seem to have grown weary of him. Some of my old roommates are my dearest, closest friends to this day -- though not all of them are -- but if there was one theme that ran throughout these failed attempts at space-sharing, it was the food issue. The refrigerator unit almost always seemed to be at the center of most of these arguments, and so it is very shrewd of the filmmakers to fixate on this common anger point and run it crashingly through the apartment.

And yes, a couple of those food-involved moments were brought up when I sought to make small talk by dishing deeply on the antics of roommates past. They aren't really sore spots at all, but just very funny in the telling, which is why I was sharing loopy tales of my "still-friends" with my current friends. But it does make me wonder if there was some other force at work in those apartment and condo kitchens of yore that caused all the distress. Not just a monstrous fridge which disappears food and has sloppy manners, but perhaps also a derelict dishwasher which destroyed a series of my favorite mugs and painted all of my white plastic bowls the nauseating color of Spaghetti-O sauce, or a phantom garbage disposal which spewed noxious filth all over the counter that remained there for several days while I was off on vacation. Surely these fiends must truly be to blame for my woes.

See how I am? Anything to make amends. Even after all these years, you gotta stick by your roomies...

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