Avery wishes he were the kind of man to make friends, go back to school, find a girlfriend. Unfortunately he’s haunted by self-doubt, the ceaseless swirl of thoughts running through his head, and the ghost of the man he witnessed being murdered in the park. The ghost, Vik, wants the answer to one question: ‘Why didn’t you help me?’
Writer/director: James Hoffman
Producer: Faisal Lutchmedial
James Hoffman says:
“While Things Worse is a certainly a ghost story, I’m most intrigued by the unresolved ambiguity to this haunting. Though Avery is stalked by the ghost of a man he witnessed murdered, is it a legitimate supernatural occurrence? Or is Avery being punished by his own psyche for an action he never took?
The story originally developed as a riff on Crime and Punishment, but with a protagonist who, far from having Raskolnikov’s psychotic certainty about the world, suffers from paralyzing indecision. What emerged was a morally murky tale in which we must wonder, right alongside Avery, what is his responsibility to this stranger? What should he have done? What could he have done? What would we have done?
Easily the most exciting element of this film to work on was the swirl of overlapping thoughts that plagues Avery. It came from an offhand comment my brother once made to me, that people in our family tend to be afflicted by what he called ‘a racing brain’ – what my father later described, when pressed, as ‘the hectics’ – in which thoughts can’t be stopped, connections must be made, and brains generally won’t shut up. “You don’t seem to have it, though,” I was casually informed.
The ‘racing brain’ idea stuck with me, not least of all because I wasn’t sure whether to feel relieved or offended by my brother excluding me from the family psychosis. As Things Worse developed, I saw the perfect opportunity in Avery’s moral uncertainty to cinematically render my conception of ‘the hectics’, with one thought not allowing another thought to finish and each idea giving birth to a contrary opinion.
Things Worse is what is known as a micro-budget production, and was planned as an opportunity for people to work in positions they otherwise might not have the chance to. To that end, we enticed an ace photographer to be our DP and had a producer explore the other side of the camera as an actor. The success of this film is a testament to a talented, hard-working and enthusiastic cast and crew that put together a larger and better organized production than we had any right to expect.”
About James Hoffman
James Hoffman is a Montreal based filmmaker working in fiction, TV news, documentary and music video. A graduate of Concordia Film Production, he co-founded UrbanHanded Works, a multimedia company dedicated to bringing artists together to pool creativity and combine complementary skills.