Since modern times, many people have seen in God either an absurd idea or a burden that limits so much our own freedom that it would be useless to believe in the force of a whimsical puppeteer. But how unbearable is, in fact, a universe in which God is dead? Far from being a project with religious ostentatious stake, ‘He Calls Them All by Name‘ is an intense and metaphorical short film about the individual soul’s abyss, whose metaphysic conception on the universe is facing a supreme crisis. Choosing a monochrome strategy that allows a detachment and rather an austerity probe of a shadowy, infernal space through the violent atmosphere of a self-destructive community, director Chad Sogas subtly explores the boundaries between the absurdity of existence limited by the harsh rules of a hostile environment and the humans’ impossibility to detach themselves from the principles of a spiritual conception regarding their own destiny. Indeed, the subtle stake of this cinematic experiment may seem rather paradoxical, but isn’t this paradox the very essence of the mentality of modern humans who, despite the apparent atheism they adopt, cannot openly accept the more or less tragic kinetics of events defining their life? If God has fallen, over time, from being the master of justice to a scapegoat, until he has finally been killed by the mind of the current individual, who is now guilty of the global social dysfunctionality that characterizes the present world? Obviously, such a debate that seems to derive from Nietzsche’s concept, Übermensch (who must lead a world in which “God is dead”), can be quite suited to the context of Chad Sogas’s project, but the valences of this intelligent experiment may exist besides all these speculations and more or less philosophical interpretations.
Lacking the conventions of a canonical narrative structure, this short film captures the confrontation of three characters during a single night with a tragic ending. Bergen (a harmless man whose perception of reality is altered, being guided only by biblical exhortations while he obsessively recites verses), Kenn (a man defeated by the whims of an absurd destiny who tries to violently avenge the death of his beloved) and Ol’ Tucky (an apparently demonic character brutalized by the environment and the failures of his life). These three separate destinies converge into the same sensitive point that discusses the inability of the human to truly assume the responsibility of their own choices, resorting to extreme revolt in order to find a justification for the aberrant mechanism of their own existence.
By choosing a Gothic atmosphere that coagulates in an expressive cinematic substance the story of the three protagonists who have lost the fight against destiny, director Chad Sogas creates in this philosophical thriller-metaphor a hermetic suffocating universe whose grim poetry reminds of the aridness of the North-American novels. Without opting for a bombastic editing or for a series of ornamental strategies that go beyond the convention of a tripartite narrative perspective (similar to a feature like Babel), ‘He Calls Them All by Name’ excels through a good dose of dramatic tension, but also through a consistent and interpretable dialogue revealing the profile of a versatile project that manages to meet the exigencies of a wide range of cinematic tastes.
For the compositional intelligence that combines the philosophical metaphor with the dramatic and dynamic structure of a thriller, for the dark and magnetic atmosphere of this hermetic universe in which good and evil exceed the standards of morality promoted by the dogmas of a spiritual society, and also for the sensitivity through which the director synthesizes, in the destinies of his characters, the spiritual crisis of the modern individual, ‘He Calls Them All by Name’ was awarded with the Film of the Month distinction in the April 2018 edition of TMFF.