There is a danger when taking the already established film-forms in short, amateur film production as the model. As it happens too often one limits oneself only to repeating as closely as possible the way in which some type of films are done already for many years (usually in horror or action type films), creating a work that is not more than an imitation of the mainstream feature-film production. In this case even a good imitation is still only an imitation. One can ask what is the purpose of investing energy (and money) in the products that try to repeat something that is already being done (or had been done) much better professionally each day in large quantities in all parts of the world. Though Step uses the form of a burlesque gag it also overcomes the above mentioned difficulty of being just an imitation of an already "dead" form. Here the film's problematic object is the sound itself (thus the film is not completely silent as was the case with burlesques) and not some material thing (as in burlesque) that at least in theory could go wrong also in the real world. For its type of funny story to work Step is set in unnatural environment. The film has a kind of unrealistic atmosphere: there is the empty scene with a wall as a background, devoid of any other human presence apart from two actors, sounds are reduced to steps and background traffic, acting deliberately exaggerates bodily actions - facial expressions, walk, efforts to silence the creaky sound. The fact that the character doesn't find the sounds of the steps unnatural but only annoying sets this story even more in the realms of the unreal where anything is possible. The constructed unrealistic place and people of this film thus sustain its improbable story and create amusing situations. On the other hand the sole choice of the objects that do not function normally (space, sound) puts forward another important question. By subverting the basic expectations of the viewers considering the space and sound the film produces comical effects but also reveals the codified nature of films we are usually seeing and of our expectations when we are watching them. Thus, besides watching a funny story, we can also contemplate on the nature of cinematic representation and its power to trick us. On a larger scale it pushes us to question the self-evident nature of things and the construction of "normality" (which is actually being constructed with a big help of mainstream cinema and television). Yet, as it is shown by a man who tries to destroy the creaky sound of the step by all means (though in funny ways), even in an unreal world the need to suppress the transgressions and to be normal is an undoubted command. The fact that Step is made in a form of a burlesque-like joke but can be seen not only on a level of a joke shows that Step is not just an imitation of the past form. It corroborates the notion that short films can actually be much wealthier in their content (and form) than many of the feature-films seen everyday.
Review: Tadej Znidarcic