Saturday, August 08, 2020 14:31

On Edge (2001)

In On Edge (2001) British filmmaker Frazer Lee manages to combine a common phobia with a common irritation in order to create a well-executed, stylish short film.

Mr. Thurlow (played by Charley Boorman – yes, that Charley Boorman) has a severe toothache. He’s been waiting patiently to see a dentist, but isn’t prepared to wait any longer: as he tells the receptionist, he is a private patient, after all. Despite being asked politely to continue waiting, Mr. Thurlow decides enough is enough and goes in search of the dentist; other patients be damned.

Luckily he finds one Dr. Matthews – played with real verve by one Doug (‘Pinhead’) Bradley. Dr. Matthews is disposed to be sympathetic, and invites the suffering man into his clinic. Sure, he’s not Mr. Thurlow’s regular dentist, but he’s plausible, professional and willing to assist. What’s the worst that could happen?

Doug Bradley is at the top of his game here: playing Dr. Matthews gives him the opportunity to demonstrate his flair for dialogue – most of the screen time is given to him, and he holds the audience well. Dr. Matthews is erudite, considered, and respectable – and only slowly, very slowly do the cracks begin to show. When you’re not appreciating Herr Bradley’s performance there’s time to think about a serious point raised by On Edge: we automatically trust anyone who has the trappings of vocation. Put someone in a white coat or an appropriate uniform and we’re willing to allow them to do any number of dangerous, invasive things. This is treated with a decent helping of black humour, but the point is deftly made nonetheless. And after all this slowly-building tension, a brief moment of grisliness does what it needs to do in order to provide the punch line!

On Edge is a superb use of the short film format and, as the director’s first project, genuinely impressive. Dentist-phobics however should definitely not apply…

This is available on Youtube…

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