Currently touring the film festival circuit is What We’re Reading Today! a dark-comedy short film from Georgia-based filmmakers Devon Johnson and Shannon Strucci.
Written and directed by Johnson and shot and edited by Strucci, What We’re Reading Today! is presented as the final episode of a fictional eponymous public access TV show wherein the less-than-articulate host (played by Graham Edwards) along with his ragtag group of co-anchors and crew-members stumble through their duties like one would only see on retro Public Access TV. The show’s producer, Barbara (played by Strucci) is set on cancelling the series, which from the looks of things would be doing it a favor, but the host is quite determined to keep the show on the air at any cost… including summoning an ancient, otherworldly entity to assist him. What happens from there is a bizarre twist straight out of an H.P. Lovecraft story that you’ll just have to see for yourselves to fully appreciate.
With a total run-time clocking in at just over six minutes, this is a very short film that gives audiences just enough to fully grasp the concept, art direction, and overall story, but doesn’t hang around too long with the cringe-inducing bad production values that made Public Access TV so (in)famous. The performances by all involved are spot-on in their portrayals of all of the inexperienced, ill-prepared, and ultimately ill-fated endeavors of the worst Public Access shows you’ve ever seen. It’s absolutely dreadful all-around, and extremely uncomfortable to watch… and that’s 100% the point.
That notwithstanding, the one thing that stands out the most with this film is the editing. This is not only shot just like an amateur “fly by the seat of one’s pants” production, but it actually manages to look exactly like any given retro show on Public Access TV you’ve ever seen. I admittedly have no idea what equipment was used to film this, but whether this was achieved by using old Public Access equipment, or by utilizing some insanely good post-production skills (or both), the end effect is this film actually looks exactly like what its portraying itself as, which really helps with the overall immersion into the story, and immediately hooks the viewer into this odd rabbit hole of bad television. As an interesting side-effect, this expert level of intentional bad cinema blended with an unapologetic attitude makes this one very difficult to critique, bordering on critic-proof.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, What We’re Reading Today! is one of the absolute best things touring the festival circuit right now. With its brilliant mix of cringe-worthy Public Access production values and extremely dark, occult humor thrown in, it’s exactly the type of thing one would expect (or at the very least hope) to see on late night Adult Swim right alongside those other bizarre-yet-brilliant shorts from the likes of Wham City/AB Video Solutions or Abominable Pictures. Basically, it’s a lot like Tim & Eric… you know, if Tim & Eric were actually good. If you see this pop up on any film festival lineup, do yourself a favor and go out of your way to see this one. You won’t be disappointed. – 9.0/10
Editor/Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine