As a devastating tsunami rushes towards him, a man looks back on his life in order to work out if it has all been worth it. Read on for our review of the award-winning director and writer Brian McWha’s disaster drama Tsunami Falls.
It’s a tragic coincidence that I write this review soon after hearing the news about the death of The Black Panther himself, actor Chadwick Boseman. After being diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016 the actor sadly lost his fight today at the age of just 43. According to reports, Boseman had been fighting stage 3 and as it progressed to stage 4 of the disease, suffering untold pain for 4 years. He knew that his death was a distinct possibility, yet during this period he still managed to make 3 of the highest-grossing movies of all time. This would have taken a herculean effort from him and the reason I mention today’s sad news is that Brian McWha’s short drama Tsunami Falls asks the question how would you feel if you knew your death was imminent?
As Tsunami Falls opens we are jolted by a 9 am alarm clock bell ringing, it is an ominous tone that seems to suggest not everything is right with the world and that time will somehow play a part. We feel, rather than see, a shift in the atmosphere. Thomas wakes up and checks his phone, 23 missed calls does seem rather unusual but with a furrowing of his brow, he decides to ignore them and then he sees the terrifying TV news reports. 15 minutes earlier there was an earthquake out at sea and now, thanks to this natural disaster, a 40-foot tsunami is heading towards Thomas and his house. The tidal wave will hit within 2 minutes and we are left with Thomas staring out of his window contemplating his life as he begins to accept the inevitability of his death.
Director and writer Brian McWha provides us with many scenes that flesh out the character of Thomas and help to give us his backstory as he watches his life flash before his eyes. Using clever editing tricks by Ashley Lynch, we move backward and forwards throughout Thomas’s timeline. We experience his ups and downs, his loves, his losses, his celebrations, and his tragedies. There are so many different aspects of Thomas’s character that we can’t always keep up with the changes. Thankfully McWha directs these scenes well, managing to control the flow of information we are given and slowing the pace down for any moments considered to be important.
The whole short is helped enormously by the powerful and uplifting score by Sean William, and it is his music, particularly his use of strings, that manages to elevate what could otherwise be (harshly) considered somewhat clichéd and standard material, into a montage of remarkable and surprising emotion. In just under 9 minutes McWha manages to give us a fully realised character while Josh Dohy the actor portraying Thomas, fills the character with such emotion not only do we feel we know him, we respect him a great deal, and we even care for him. When McWha snatches Thomas away from us almost immediately we are left feeling somewhat bereft.
As Thomas faces up to the inevitability of his death there is a moment of zen-like calm and understanding that falls over him. While not all of us can leave behind a legacy as iconic and memorable as Chadwick Boseman, we can still create the best life possible for ourselves. The moment Thomas accepts his fate with tears in his eyes is the moment he realises that no matter what happens after he is gone, he is happy knowing that he has lived a very good life. In the meantime, Brian McWha, his cast, and all of his crew have managed to make a very good film.