Movies are my air. They’re part of my DNA. To my knowledge, there hasn’t been a single moment in my free-thinking life in which I haven’t applied a movie reference to whatever it is that I have going on. Growing up in front of a television will do that to you, but I wouldn’t change a thing about my upbringing. Chris Stuckmann‘s Auditorium 6 is an ode to that particular relationship with film, made by movie lovers FOR movie lovers.
The short film, which is gaining momentum and awards recognition on the festival circuit, follows a night janitor named Matt (Matthew Brando) who takes a job cleaning a theater that is said to be haunted. During a mundane shift of cleaning popcorn, scraping chewing gum off the bottom of seats, and getting rid of used condoms on senior discount day, Matt encounters the presence that haunts the theater, forever altering his life in unexpected ways.
Shot on location at Kent Plaza Theaters in Kent, Ohio, Stuckmann and the Auditorium 6 team filmed during closed hours over the course of only five nights- which is surprising once you see the incredibly high quality of the production. Filmed with a RED Weapon, Stuckmann manages a crystal clear picture while making effective use of the location, utilizing distant wide shots to showcase the emptiness of the complex to which the theater belongs, and capturing the creepy aesthetic of long hallways that make you feel as though every taken step is leading you toward the monsters of your imagination. This is a small independent production with huge cinematic aspirations, and it’s an admirable effort.
While I won’t get into spoilers about the ghostly presence, it must be noted that the highlight of the short is undeniably KateLynn E. Newberry’s performance in the mysterious role. The actress carries an infectious charm that I was unexpectedly delighted by, and when the script calls for it, her misery is authentically nuanced and emotionally devastating.
Another aspect of the film that I’m particularly fond of is the aforementioned love of cinema that’s on display throughout the 35-minute runtime. Though the spoken references to other films occasionally stall Auditorium 6 from moving forward with its own story, I was endlessly taken by the level of appreciation and adoration of movies that Stuckmann shows through the characters he’s written. Life is agonizing at times, and movies are always here for us. They’re friends who lift us up or distract us from our misery in times of need. Anyone with an appreciation of movies and all they mean to the lives of everyday people will surely admire the short’s awareness of that.
All in all, Auditorium 6 is just a genuinely fun time. Stuckmann proves to be perhaps even more talented behind a camera as he is in front of one (You can find his film reviews and various shorts on YouTube), and Newberry gives an attention-demanding performance. If you have the opportunity to catch the short at a festival, you won’t be disappointed. If not, Stuckmann hopes to eventually put out a Blu-ray with exclusive bonus content. Regardless of the medium in which you view the film, it’s guaranteed to charm you.
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