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Last week I had the opportunity to see "I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday," the first feature-length film from friend, roustabout, and director Mike Lombardo. I'm pleased to report that the film is an unqualified success in every way.
Clocking in at a lean 71 minutes, the movie is tight and almost every minute of the running time is devoted to ratcheting up the tension. As such, the plot is bare bones. An unexplained apocalypse has left the planet a nightmarish deathscape, and the air breathable only through a gas mask. Three survivors: a mother, father, and their eight-year- old son have taken shelter in some sort of fallout bunker. When the father never returns from a supply run, the mother tries to get by and finally, after a series of impossible decisions, plans to give her boy the merriest Christmas circumstances will allow.
And aside from the ending (which will leave even the most jaded viewer saying "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus") that's about it for the story. The rest of the movie is comprised of flashbacks, dreams, and visions (or are they?) There are only five actors in the movie and they all do yeoman's work, but I'd be remiss if I didn't point out the contributions of Hope Bikle, in the role of the mother. All of the actors are outstanding, but the mother has the most screen time and the biggest emotional gamut to traverse. Many of the scenes are just an examination of her face, sometimes behind a gas mask (!), trying to work out what to do in an impossible situation, putting on a brave face for her son, and almost always screaming soundlessly inside. Not once did I find her wanting. Not once was I bored or anything less than riveted. A stunning achievement for a film made for $10,000.
Perhaps most interesting to me is I don't think baby Jesus, Bethlehem, "the reason for the season," or a single religious icon was ever mentioned or shown. This is as purely secular as a Christmas movie can be, which is certainly a deliberate decision. This film is a Hiroshima bombing which ends "The War on Christmas" with an unquestionable victory for commercialism; a feature-length answer of "Never" to the question "When are we going to put Christ back in Christmas?"
"I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday" is a bleak, suffocating throat- punch of a movie, destined to become a new holiday staple. (How about playing this on repeat for 24 hours instead of Ralphie, TNT?)
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