Few filmmakers manage to capture a metaphor of consumerist society with such acid irony as Jason Lee Segal does in his short film ‘Welcome To The Neighborhood‘. Yet this project goes beyond standard social critique since the creator’s perspective turns to the very artistic discourse he proposes – cinema. In other words, the short film is a self-referential reconsideration of cinema that keeps you “glued to the screen” while illustrating a doomsday scenario of collective dehumanization. The micro-society that Segal captures is addicted to the adrenaline constantly injected by all those film formulas that, under the guise of a temporary disconnection from the daily routine, lead to a total rupture between the viewers and the reality in which they live. The perversity of this “art” is much more subtle than that, and this does not escape the director’s watchful eye. Thus, cinema seen as a systematic general brainwash becomes at once a form of social cohesion, a communitarian modus vivendi and, at the same time, a method of emotional dispossession or programmatic “vampirization”.
A young couple move to a new neighbourhood, where they get a more than warm welcome. But what lies behind this friendliness seems to be something out of some kind of cult dedicated to watching a truly engaging series. Who will succumb to this temptation first and who will resist? And yet, what’s the point of living a life that’s perhaps too conventional, as long as TV can deliver the most powerful emotions your soul needs?
It’s hard to say, therefore, which of the central characters is really an outsider in the labyrinthine architecture of this dictatorship of compulsive entertainment consumption. Jason Lee Segal offers a percussive insight that is at once playful, goofy, and frightening, into the madness of our own world, obsessed with cinematic escapist versions, which are seen as a substitute for a seemingly dull existence. With a well-balanced and unpredictable narrative dynamism, the director synthesizes the contours of a universe as strange as it is familiar to portray the collective decline of a humanity unable to reclaim its own reality. Even if the potential of this bold idea is far from exhausted within the parameters of a short film, we are already convinced that ‘Welcome To The Neighborhood’ is the ‘1984′ of cinematic consumerism that we may have joined without realizing it.