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Film / All These Creatures

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All These Creatures is a 2018 short film (13 minutes) from Australia, directed by Charles Williams.

It centers on an Aboriginal family living in an unspecified location. The protagonists are Tempest, a teenage boy, and his father Mal. Mal is afflicted with an unspecified, but obviously quite serious, mental disorder. Formerly a loving husband and nurturing father, he begins having paranoid delusions, ranting loudly and incoherently, and sometimes exploding into violence. Meanwhile, the backyard of the family home gets infested with their cicadas, which in their numbers and their constant chirping are an obvious metaphor for Mal's creeping insanity.



  • Ambiguous Disorder: It's not spelled out what exactly is wrong with Mal but it seems like some sort of schizophrenia, with the nonsensical shouting and the paranoid delusions.
  • Calling Parents by Their Name: In this instance it's Mal who tells his children to call him Mal instead of Dad. It's a symptom of his mental illness.
  • Downer Ending: Mal is found dead in his car, which he drove into a lake.
  • Feet-First Introduction: The film begins with a shot of Mal's feet as he wanders around the backyard, the shot also catching the end of the cricket bat that he's holding. The tone is appropriately ominous.
  • Hope Spot: After wandering around the streets shouting, and then disappearing for a while, Mal shows up at Tempest's school to pick him and his sister up, looking fit and relaxed. But as they drive in the car Mal's increasingly nonsensical babble about how all the other people around them aren't real shows that he's no better.
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  • Narrator: Narrated by a grown-up Tempest in a tone of mournful resignation.
  • Ominous Fog: It's not natural fog; it's the fog from bug bombs that Mal has set off in the back yard to try and kill the cicadas. Still, it looks like ominous fog, as Mal slowly creeps around the yard while poison fog hugs the ground.
  • Sanity Slippage: Mal already is not well at the start of the film but gets progresively worse until the point where he's wandering the streets at random shouting at people.
  • Talking to Themself: Part of Mal's illness involves him shouting at nobody and carrying on conversations with no one.
  • Title Drop: It's a metaphor for his father's madness. Tempest recalls how his biology class "learned about all the creatures inside us. How we're made of all these little living bugs and cells." Later he remembers the cicada infestation in his backyard, and how he'd "listen at night to all these little creatures." Both are metaphors for his father's deteriorating mental state.

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