Next Floor (Denis Villeneuve, 2008, Canada)

Next Floor is a 2008 short film by Denis Villeneuve. The film opens with a close-up of a man's eyes, which slowly zooms out to reveal his face. The man looks sternly at the camera, as the sound of drums pounds. We are some kind of banquet, where a group of suited men (and one woman) are feasting on animal carcasses. They eat at lightning speed, feasting on what appears to be uncooked organ meats. There is the unpleasant sound of chewing, lips licking, and cutlery clacking. 

Suddenly, the banquet table falls to the floor, leaving a crater in its wake. The man at the beginning calls into an intercom: "Next floor," as the chandelier extends downward. Despite being covered in rubble, the group remarkably is still in the same position at the table, and the meal starts as if nothing happened, with a whole new course of exotic animals being sent to the table. Once again, the table collapses through the floor. The crew struggles to keep up as the table keeps falling through the floor. And yet the grotesque and unpleasant meal continues time after time as if nothing happened... however it progressively becomes more fevered.

The film then turns back to our man at the beginning, with the drum beat starting up again. As the camera zoomed out at the beginning, it begins zooming on a close-up of this man's eye.   Next Floor is an excellent absurdist short that bears the influence of several surrealist influencers, including Jean-Pierre Jeunet. It shows that Villeneuve had an aptitude for fantasy and sci-fi well before he tackled the ambitious projects of ArrivalBlade Runner 2049, and Dune. While a must-see for fans of Villeneuve, the film could just as easily be enjoyed by those who have no familiarity with the French-Canadian auteur's work. 



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