Director: Richard Powell
Cast: Robert Nolan, Peter Higginson, Samantha Nemeth
A seemingly normal day for students and staff at a typical American High School potentially could turn into something much more malevolent as cherubic appearing teacher Richard Dodd secretly seethes with a dangerous, vehement hatred for his daily routine, his co-workers, and his students.
While news stories and films depicting serial killers as your average, everyday nice guy uncomfortably force us to consider who may be living next door to us, Worm has us consider something even more disturbing: whose hands are we leaving the well-being of our children in when we drop them off at the doors of the school building each day? It is a thought-provoking question and is not all that far-fetched, considering the plethora of news reporting in the last few several highlighting teacher indiscretions with students. However, Mr. Dodd's thoughts go beyond the typical sexual desire generally and stereotypically associated with a teacher's abuse of power and cross into psychotic and homicidal territory. The film is almost entirely narrated through the thoughts of Mr. Dodd. The viewer hears his inner thoughts about how he believes the majority of his students to be spoiled, ungrateful, stupid little bastards who are not worthy of the privileges and pampering that they receive from their parents and the educational system he is part of. During his break in the faculty lounge, the viewer becomes privy to his true feelings and lack of compassion for his co-workers. It is disturbing how Mr. Dodd can put on an outer facade that is the total antithesis of his true feelings. This is certainly a testament to Robert Nolan's performance which is the sole driving force of the film. After his break in the lounge, Mr. Dodd's thoughts take on a more sinister tone and it is obvious what is on his mind when he opens is briefcase to reveal a hand gun, expressing his desire to utilize it to systematically gun down each of his students in cold blood. What is puzzling is that the film is careful never to suggest why Dodd has these disturbing feelings. His students, for the most part, are extremely well behaved and seem to listen to his requests with no protest. His coworkers seem to be friendly and genuinely interested in his life. Based on the title Worm, it is fair to assume that what drives Dodd to have these thoughts is not his hatred for his job at all, but rather an illness that is festering inside him, destroying his insides like a worm does to an apple. He really could have any profession: a lawyer, an accountant, a doctor, a insurance salesman, and he still would have these feelings. It is the fact the he is a teacher, a profession that is virtually unparalleled in its allowance of adults being able to build relationships and work closely with children, that makes this tale so disturbing.
Since the film clocks in at a meager twenty minutes, it never has the opportunity to become dull or lifeless. However, the anti-climatic ending is a tad unsatisfying and may make the twenty minutes viewing the film, as fast as they do go by, seem not worth it. There is no pay off. The film could have benefited and certainly would have been more effective had something happened in the end. The viewer is left with a lot of unanswered questions regarding Dodd's feelings. The school day ends and so do Dodd's thoughts, at least until the next day, or at least we are left to assume. The ending is certainly the film's only fault, but considering the subject matter of the film and how it entrances the viewer and creates anticipation, it is a major one. Still, the film is highly effective and definitely worth a watch because it is thought provoking and highly disturbing. It is interesting that in our post-Columbine society where the focus has been on trying to prevent other kids from replicating that horrific day that a film asks us to not look at the kids as the potential time bombs, but at the very people who are expected to protect the children.
Fright Meter Grade:
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