Review by Mark Schwab
February 28th, 2018
Maybe it's because we continue to reel in the aftermath of the Parkland, FL school shooting but director D. Domenico Munno's fiery and surreal debut short film SIGNIFICANCE QUEST strikes a chord as it chronicles an angry youth unraveling under the weight of his own rage.
Munno himself stars as Walter - an intelligent software programmer anxious to share the progress of a new app he's designed for Jane (Valentina Bronzi), a pretty young woman who he knows from school. Walter calls Jane to ask her out on a sort-of date so he can share his hard work and passion for the app but Jane is sharp and picks up quickly that Walter is pushing too hard into stalker territory and quickly demurs. Jane is polite at first but is forced to become blunt and emasculating as Walter lobs the first of many insults. Things go very quickly downhill from there with horrible seeds planted for violent intentions.
That phone conversation makes up a decent chunk of the film and it's excellent. The tension builds nicely with some good editing and effective performances from both Munno and Bronzi. It is always a sign of good filmmaking when an "ordinary" situation like a girl rebuffing the advances of a young man over the phone becomes absorbing and uncomfortable.
In fact, that is what I liked most about SIGNIFICANCE QUEST. D. Domenico Munno's overall story might not be super original but the way he has executed it is fresh and surprising. It's one of the hidden advantages of being a first-time filmmaker where you go on your deepest instincts without trying to copy previous films. Munno shows his own vision here and boldly follows through on it with an unsettling music score and strange camera angles that keep the viewer on edge throughout. Also, the title is absolutely perfect - google it with the word "terrorism" and it will bring even more context to the film.
I do feel there are a couple of slight missteps - when the phone conversation ends Munno's performance does go into over-the-top mode and the ending is a bit too clear and pat compared to the disturbing atmosphere created previously - but these are totally forgivable compared to seeing a new filmmaker who puts himself and his visual ideas at the forefront. Munno has actually created something new here and this reviewer was extremely appreciative of the effort. Certainly catch it as it hits the festival circuit this year.