A dystopian setting does not always anticipate social, political or ecological disaster. The short film ‘Outside‘, despite the expectations it creates, is rather an intimate dystopia, a metaphor for alienation, but also a way for director Frank van Bergen to explore the human condition, relentlessly shadowed by the disease of loneliness. With a minimum of narrative resources, the short film induces the overwhelming sense of foreboding that movies like “The Road” or even “Bird Box” have accustomed us to while illustrating the existence of a single character who has apparently survived an inexplicable catastrophe. Of course, such stakes imply a more elaborate subtextual discourse in that the struggle for survival is about both physical and psychological endurance. The director thus subtly orchestrates a tempered introspective exercise, proving the inner conflict of the protagonist, who finds refuge in his own past. However, the constant return to the past is both an instinct of self-preservation and a means of reopening an unseen emotional wound that involves an unremitting deaf tension.


Indeed, Frank van Bergen delivers a slow-burn short film synthesizing the character’s existence to monotonous everyday gestures that seemingly risk compromising the coagulation of a coherent narrative thread. And yet, the viewer’s curiosity and state of expectation remain undimmed. Consequently, even if the action itself doesn’t move into a “spectacular” zone, the desolation of the city abandoned by any human presence exudes a hauntingly bleak fascination. The silence settles like a compact, material, heavy body, depicting, in fact, the mental universe of the protagonist, whose only salvation seems to be the comfort of a distant memory. Without deviating from the linear flow of the present, this film precisely evokes an ongoing temporal overlap at every step, skillfully articulated by a professional filmmaker. Considering these observations, it’s hard to say to what extent ‘Outside’ will appeal to general audiences concerned with concrete, external conflicts rather than introspective and somewhat metaphorical nuances. And yet, viewers looking for atypical projects will certainly appreciate Frank van Bergen’s particular poeticism, whose atmospheric short film will linger in their memory.