An odd, upsetting 71 minutes from Latvia, in which an unnamed man, dressed in the utilitarian high-visibility vest of the title, separates from the crowds of similarly attired workers, leaves a plant and makes his way to the house of the industrialist who has just put him and 211 others out of work. There, he uses his toolkit to exact bloody revenge, and maybe steal a little of the luxury lifestyle he feels he is owed. However, something isn’t right; the mansion makes strange noises, the cupboards are bare. Rich food, when he eats it, doesn’t agree with him, cigars make him choke. He’s plagued by nightmares, just-glimpsed figures and the feeling that he’s being stalked. Possibly by a man in an orange jacket…
Partly a twist on home-invasion horror, part old-fashioned ghost story, part politically conscious fable, The Man in the Orange Jacket is complex and unsettling. Bringing to mind The Shining and Jan Švankmajer in some places, The Woman in Black in others, it is not averse to getting properly nasty now and then. Divided into four acts, and largely dialogue free, it eludes simple explanation. Has the act of murder and greed in act one turned the man into his own enemy in the class war? Is he simply a horrible psychopath being tortured by the unquiet shades of his victims? How much of any of this is only happening within his head? Undoubtedly there is an emphasis on the emptiness of bourgeois desire, and on the corruptions of capital, especially in scenes where he treats two (apparently twin) prostitutes he has hired as a ‘rich man’ appallingly, showing his own capacity for exploitation.
Frankly, I’d be lying if I said I had a handle on exactly what was going on at every given moment. What I can say without much fear of contradiction is that the sound design is brilliant and that writer-director Aik Karapetian is a dab hand at evoking nameless menace and delivering brutal shocks. Approach with caution.