A well-appointed man lands in Paris and stops off in the restroom. He notes a security camera in the corner, innocuously capturing his movements. As he steps back from the sink, it seems as though the camera follows him. Paranoia? Or is he merely one of a million people being silently monitored in our increasingly surveillance-ridden society? As he goes on his way, he becomes more and more aware of pervasive cameras everywhere, unescapable. But are they really singling him out? And if so, for what purpose?
This is the premise of the new web series Urban Wolf, which started playing on Crackle.com a few days ago. I was able to see a screening of the entire series recently, and it’s quite worth your time. Though the premise sounds like a lot of other paranoia thrillers, this is done tightly and stylishly, with much higher production values than commonly found in web series. It feels very cinematic, and yet director Laurent Touil-Tartour embraces the particular needs of web video, splitting the series up into fifteen segments, each three to four minutes long and all written with that length in mind.
In an effective artistic choice, there’s essentially no dialogue in the series; rather, everything plays out visually, carried out through a dynamic central performance by Vincent Sze. Touil-Tartour has a nice flair for composition and a good sense of visual storytelling. He also knows how to do good twists and suggest things rather than spell them out, something I really appreciated. I know he’s hoping this series gets him noticed by the film and television industry (getting the series on Sony-owned Crackle.com is probably a nice start), but I’m also glad to see ambitious series like this on the web. Web video is starting to come of age a little, and as much as I love geeky comedy series like The Guild and The Legend of Neil, it’s nice to see some different genres and styles in the mix.
Urban Wolf screened to good reactions and awards at the ITV Festival, AFI Digifest, and ComicCon over the past year. I’ve embedded the first episode of the series under the seats, and the first six episodes are already available on Crackle. They’re releasing one a day, looks like, which means you won’t have to wait long in between each cliff-hanger.
the recovering academic