Anxiety is no joke. It used to be that those with anxiety were simply considered to be bashful, but with everyday social interaction, things would end up being alright. To some extent, that may be true, now and then, but anxiety was never considered a "real" thing until very recently - never considered as a debilitating illness or really researched. How wrong they were back then about anxiety and a good number of other things. Social anxiety can be crippling and even (gasp) life threatening. Its effects are akin to being held at gunpoint and simply freezing up. Or, in some cases, the exact opposite.
So, what does anxiety have to do with Aidan White's film "The Embodied Mind," you ask? Anxiety "is" Aidan White's film - a glimpse into the mind of a man suffering extreme social anxiety. At least, this is White's visual representation of it, and let me tell you that some aspects of the film seem to fit the bill perfectly - and are also quite creepy to boot. In the movie, the protagonist, who suffers from anxiety, receives a strange book at his doorstep and proceeds to read it. Yes, reader, the book is strange ... and it's a children's book at that! After leafing through the book, the antagonist seemingly enters another dimension where his fears are real, solid, and in his face. It's during these sequences that "The Embodied Mind" earns its stars, and although quite creepy, there's a certain amount of truth to what unfolds. What is that, exactly? You'll simply have to watch the film to find out.
"The Embodied Mind" hovers around the twenty-minute mark, and yes, reader, the first act is kind of slow moving. Presented in black and white, for reasons of symbolism, I imagine, not a lot happens during the first part of White's film. We're introduced to the main character and shown that he does, in fact, have severe anxiety. Truth be told? The whole first part could have been done in two or three minutes, and had act one been more aggressively edited, I believe I may have awarded a slightly higher score.
With that said, the second act more than makes up for it with its clever visuals and eerie sound design/scoring. Act two is creepy, sketchy, and in my opinion, very excellently represents the content. Overall, "The Embodied Mind" has a very "Twilight Zone" feel to it - the original series. But, more to the point? The viewer will instantly understand what is being brought to the screen - even if they don't suffer anxiety at all. That's a great trick for a micro-budget indie short - a trick many filmmakers work very hard to learn.
When it's all said and done, even the slower parts of "The Embodied Mind" are almost of no consequence because the overall length of the film is so short. But once the second act begins, most viewers will be hooked enough to want to see how everything is going to play out. White's short film may not be perfect in every way, but what ever is? Would I recommend this short? In a second! Well done, three and a half stars.