Whipping Boy is the type of film that grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go until the end credits roll.
Written by Aiah Samba and directed by Michael Chance, Whipping Boy introduces a future in which humanity has become hopelessly dependent on advanced technology mainly controlled by two competing corporations.
The demarcation between rich and poor is acutely pronounced, with the elite residing in shining skyscrapers that soar miles into the sky.
People have become more isolated, often interacting with others mainly via virtual reality.
As a result, many no longer possess the coping skills necessary to deal with the stressors of daily life.
Enter "whips," individuals who voluntarily act as human punching bags - for a set time and price.
These whips hire themselves out to those who want to relieve their stress in a immediate and physical manner.
Against this bizarre futuristic backdrop we meet whip Ollie (Tongayi Chirisa), a tortured man with a fiery temper.
After a meeting with a client goes horribly wrong, Ollie finds himself enmeshed in a mystery involving a mysterious piece of tech people are willing to kill for.
Aiah Samba has written an intelligent, dark, and compelling narrative in which capitalism and technology have pervaded our lives to a grotesque degree.
His characters are dark, flawed, and undeniably fascinating to watch on screen.
Director Michael Chance's vision has brought this world to vivid life. Kubrickian in scope, tone, and detail, the film's set pieces are hallmarked by impressive attention to detail, cinema-quality visual effects, and lush cinematography.
However, the icing on the cake is the film's lead - Zimbabwean actor Tongayi Chirisa.
From the moment he appears on screen, his smoldering charisma and magnetic performance helps propel Whipping Boy to dramatic heights most genre short films fail to reach.
If there is any justice in the world, Mr. Chirisa will experience a meteoric rise to stardom.
Yeah, his performance is that good.
But don't take my word for it. Watch the complete short film here ...
With its darkly compelling narrative, exceptional performances, and ambitious scope, Whipping Boy assumes a place on our list of the best science fiction short films of 2015.
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