As the end of the year approaches and I find myself inundated with a fairly large number of videos to re-watch now and rank for my Best Of list, I find myself wanting to write one last Flying Low entry for 2016, especially given that I wrote way fewer than I had wanted to this year. I could make excuses but they all sound somewhat hollow; in the end I’m going to blame Overwatch for stealing way too much of my time in recent months, while a number of videos I’ve been wanting to write about for some time have been left unappraised. This is one such video. I’ve actually had this on my docket for a long time now, and I find it difficult to justify the amount of time I’ve spent putting this off.
This is a video that uses a sped-up remix of AWOLNATION’s “Sail”, a song that probably has way too many AMVs to its name, although I can’t personally speak to that as I’ve purposely avoided them. Pandora’s Box, though, is a rare winner in the endless swath of videos made to modern radio alternative-pop; off the top of my head the only other video I can think of that takes something so worn down and makes something truly great would be Ileia’s RadioAkshun, a video that I’ve loved since the first minute I saw it, despite being sick to death of the song.
To be fair, iheartsable isn’t making a revolutionary video here — a frequently-used (and once-mocked) editing trope in the form of syncing warning lights to musical cues rears its ugly head no less than, like, three times in this video, and at no point does it feel anything other than completely cliche, and I’d be lying if I said that some of the video’s impact wasn’t lessened by the overuse of this particular sync device. Even so, besides those missteps, the editing in this video is pretty tight, and this is certainly welcome in a video like this, which is otherwise very heavily dependent on atmosphere.
And I’m going to talk about that for a moment, because the first ~45 seconds of this video, building up to the first verse, are spectacular — ominous, sinister, with a visual/conceptual payoff that has to be up there with some of the best AMV intros of the last five years or so. This is a video that deals with the depths of depression, often in extremely gruesome fashion. And while I can’t attest to the accuracy of this video’s depiction of most of these themes, I think this version of this song was the correct choice for a video like this — it’s darker than the original, more immediate and pointed, and it carries the visuals like the radio version never could.
That said, I can’t help but wonder if this video is somewhat exploitative of otherwise very heavy themes, ranging from anxiety to depression to suicide. At times, especially near the end, it seems to delve a little too deeply into horror imagery and it loses its focus somewhat, making me wonder what all the rest of the video was for. It treads the very thin line between commentary and entertainment, and I can’t honestly tell which side it eventually lands on. Some viewers may find this video in poor taste, and if you do, I apologize — but speaking as someone who has never seriously struggled with the darknesses displayed in this video (at least not to the extent of several people I know), I feel like it does a better job than most other things I’ve seen along these lines at communicating it to an outsider. Take from it what you will, but it remains a go-to video for me, and definitely one of the better horror videos in my collection.