Devon Manney’s Last Nite at Sam’s is available to watch online now, and its release could hardly be more timely.
Manney describes the film as:
[A] kaleidoscopic allegory about American capitalism, gentrification, and white [mostly male in this case] fragility, and an attempt to subvert traditional Western cartoon aesthetics which have so often been used to dilute the true toll of violence.
Before you watch: This film features flashing lights that could cause issues with photosensitive viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.
Last Nite at Sam’s features scribbly character drawings and a mono-toned palette that give it a classic comic strip feel. Unspooling entirely inside a divey-looking bar called Sam’s, the short starts off innocently enough as patrons chat, drink, and watch a football game.
Eventually, an argument breaks out over who’s in charge of the remote, and what starts as a small spat turns into a violent and ultimately deadly brawl exacerbated by drugs and alcohol. Customers turn on one another and the violence becomes inescapable. The police show up outside and the film’s crimson wash is replaced by flashing red and blue lights.
In addition to the discomfort caused by the strobing lights and wailing sirens, the unrelenting and bloody violence of the fight and a broken record player repeating the same second of sound make for an anxious viewing experience. The film’s brilliant sound mix was done by Christina Gonzalez of Paper Mountain Post.
That repeated musical beat is actually part of an otherwise charming jazz tune called “One Last Night (You & Me)” that sounds like it could be straight out of a John Huston film. However, the song is actually a new number composed by Jon Hugo Ungar and performed by vocalist Natalie Shaw, with lyrics written by Manney himself.