A hugely successful hybrid of a documentary from Keith Maitland brings back the horrific events of August 1, 1966 with imagination and urgency.
Aided by animator Craig Staggs using the rotoscoping (remember Richard Linklater's surreal Waking Life) methods from the University of Texas (at Austin) with backgrounds shot on an iPhone and actors recruited in Maitland's backyard in front of a green-screen for re-enactments, Tower is an atypical example of the genre that humanizes the victims, survivors and heroes in hardly a dishonorable way.
The perpetrator Charles Whitman went up 27 floors to pick off some 46 people from the eponymous spot, leaving 14 dead; yet in going beyond the talking heads and archival footage (with police blotter, live television, and recollections of those on hand) the heartless killer (portrayed back in a 1975 small-screen film by a young Kurt Russell) isn't mentioned or given any focus.
In this first recorded modern mass shooting, the harrowing depiction involves the likes of a pregnant Claire (Violette Beane) and a good Samaritan in Rita (Josephine McAdam), as well as dogged proactive law enforcement types during an active shooter incident like Officer McCoy (Blair Jackson) and Officer Martinez (Louie Arnette).
The vantage points of various people involved are involved in what unfolds probably more like an action film for an uninformed onlooker. Real-life images and photos of the fallen accompany what was expounded upon with remarkably rendered shock value. A sobering, awfully affecting account with its creative recreations has a pronounced impact over half a century later. As a terrifyingly terrific Tower hauntingly reminds so many in a new millennium how much our society hasn't really changed since Whitman's (lost in the headlines) rampage.