SFotD: ‘Dig’ Questions Ethics While Forcing a Nazi to Make His Own Grave

Why Watch? There are few things as irritating as a group of college student characters sitting around a table waxing philosophical about things they learned 15 minutes ago. It’s so grating that it would make a great writing challenge for just about any screenwriter, but writer/director Joshua Caldwell and writer Travis Oberlander have already taken up the cause to make the cliche engaging and meaningful.

In Dig, said stereotype is huddled around a restaurant table wearing the usual trappings of faux-intelligence while discussing ethics and Nietzsche and buzz words, but one of them is wrestling with something real. He’s a Holocaust survivor, and two decades after fleeing from Europe, he finds one of the Nazis responsible for his loved ones’ deaths. Now he has a beating heart blindfolded in his backseat instead of books and theories. They drive to the middle of nowhere, and one tells the other to start digging six feet down.

The camera work is all strong — featuring tight close-ups early on, then letting the scenery of the desert fill in the silence between the two men. It’s also edited cleanly, technically proficient all the way around, but it’s the writing and interaction between the two enemies (the Nazi being played by Breaking Bad‘s bell-dinging Mark Margolis) that really sells an impossible tension between revenge and satisfaction.

What will it cost? Around 24 minutes.

Skip Work. Watch More Short Films.

A veteran of writing about movies for nearly a decade, Scott Beggs has been the Managing Editor of Film School Rejects since 2009. Despite speculation, he is not actually Walter Mathau's grandson. See? He can't even spell his name right.

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