Numb is a 2003 independent film that is both bizarre and stunning at the same time. It’s the creation of filmmaker Michael Ferris Gibson, who wrote, produced and directed this neo noir, set in the not-too-distant future.
The movie can be divided into BD and AD — Before the Drip and After the Drip. It follows a young woman named Claire who is on a quest to find her scientist father who abandoned her and her brother several years earlier when she was still a teenager.
The world is in the grip of an unnamed disease that has driven humanity to the brink of desperation. Claire’s father has developed a serum called “The Drip” that keeps the disease at bay to those who use it constantly, but leaves them literally “numb” to life and quite useless. Because of this side effect six humans, called Security Agents, were genetically altered to be immune to the numbing effect of the Drip in order to maintain control and organization of the dosing process with most of the surviving humans holed up in the quickly collapsing Yerba City. Even these Security Agents must eventually succumb to the disease. Claire uses the last remaining agent named Miles to help her wade through the waste of humanity at Yerba in search of her father.
To counter the eventual ravages of the disease many humans opt to have their likeness created into the image of “Angels,” androids void of a soul that look human but only exist to keep the real humans juiced on the Drip.
Gibson uses a different approach in this film as he jumps from Claire’s thoughts of her past and her current real-time situation. Her thought-life is projected in color, using a handheld camera with a grainy texture that let’s the viewer almost feel the randomness and confusion Claire is feeling as she looks back to happier, and then sad times.
Her real life situation is shot in stark black and white with various layers of grays and deep shadowing, which gives one the feel of a gritty, decaying urban society on the brink of complete and utter collapse. Gibsonâ€™s purposeful use of the steady-cam for these shots really brings the anguish and hopelessness of the current situation home. His technique is very surreal and he captures the mood beautifully.
“Numb” stars Jennifer West Savitch and Dominik Overstreet in the lead roles with strong supporting performances by Anne Goldmann, Peter Macon and Andrew Ableson.
The film is distributed by Heretic Films and goes into wide DVD release for Region 1 on March 27, 2007.
I highly recommend this to everyone who loves the neo or techno noir film style — “Numb” will leave you anything but.
On the Uncle Sam scale, I give “Numb” 3 out of 5 stars.