From the Drain (David Cronenberg, 1967, Canada)

From the Drain (1967), David Cronenberg's second student film displays many of the preoccupations that would come to dominate the Canadian auteur's decades-long career. The short - running less than 15 minutes - was made for 500 Canadian dollars, which one must assume went entirely toward the cost of the film stock itself. The film centers on two characters sitting in a bathtub in an undisclosed location. The two men seem to be veterans of war, and one of the characters (the one with a mustache) keeps claiming he is looking for “The Disabled War Veterans’ Recreation Centre." The mustache man is played by Mort Ritts.

The other man in the tub is a silent man, played by Stephen Nosko. There is something Samuel Beckettesque about the beginning of the film, and Cronenberg here is clearly showing the influence of the Theater of the Absurd, which came to prominence internationally in the 1960s. The mustache man is angry that he always ends up with "silent idiots" like this, as he describes his partner in the tub. The silent guy begins to worry about the plughole in the tub and suggests that they should cover it. Their banter becomes increasingly paranoiac, and the film ultimately culminates with a stop-motion tendril monster rising from the drain to kill one of the men. 


While the horror elements here are already present, one also notices the dry sense of humor that would also be present throughout many of Cronenberg's works. This is enhanced by the film's baroque classical soundtrack, which seems to provide an ironic counterpoint to the increasingly disjointed and paranoiac - and ultimately quite violent and disturbing images - that appear onscreen. This film however is best seen by Cronenberg completists, as it is ultimately a student film and shows many of the faults of such films. 


6/10

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