I have this recurring nightmare where I’ve been accused of a murder I didn’t commit. The specifics of the crime are almost always in the realm of dreamlike absurdity, but the fear, anxiety, and dread are very real.
In fact, I’ve woken up from this dream several times with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, only to be overjoyed that all of the terror I was experiencing was just a figment of my horror-filled brain.
This nocturnal torture usually fades away by the time I’ve started my day, but while watching Ronan Jorah’s SCRATCH, I started to recall my nightly visits to hell.
In the film, two men sit in conversation at a diner. The balding, middle-aged Harvey (Mark Delabarre) complains to his companion about his troubles with female companionship. The other man, well, I can’t say too much about the other man. The whole film is shot from this other man’s point of view.
As we stare out through this mysterious man’s eyes, we begin to notice things. The newspaper on the table reads “The Butcher Kills Seventh.” Someone in black lurks outside. Something is not right. But what?
But now we’ve missed Harvey’s story. Our companion is leaving, and the dark figure from out on the street has taken his place. He has a different story to tell, and this story might just reveal the dark deeds our P.O.V character has been up to tonight.
Partially inspired by the “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by the Charlie Daniels Band, SCRATCH is a dream-like film from top to bottom. The visuals feel otherworldly thanks to an extreme monochrome color palette broken only by flashes of neon blues, pinks, and purples. The story is clear but disjointed. Just like with most dreams, it’s already in motion when we snap awake inside this character’s eyes.
Jorah’s choice to shoot his film POV is effective. It destabilizes the audience while forcing us into the role of the main character—for better or for worse. This point of view is especially dynamic during the second half of the film, when the main character is confronted and forced into action.
I’m glad I had the chance to see this unique little film, and if you have ten minutes today, make sure to check it out below and immerse yourself.
Sure, your nightmares probably take a different shape than mine, but who knows? Maybe watching SCRATCH will shake loose a memory of that one time when your dreams lead you to the devil, and the devil took you to hell.