As our coverage of Fantastic Fest continues, here are some quick thoughts on the shorts block, Shorts With Legs...but first, a quick preface...I was not smart enough for many of these shorts. A good majority of the underlying messages and symbolism went right over my head. And with that knowledge, reader, please forgive my interpretation of the stories, for I feel if I don't at least make an attempt to assume the intended message, I won't have much to review at all. So, let's just say..."beauty is in the eye of the beholder," or perhaps, "art has a different message for everyone." There...I think that covers my bases.
Shorts With Legs Review
How to Re-caulk Your Tub - A woman participates in an informative video on how to caulk your bathtub, but things devolve as reality and her insecurities invade the narrative.
The first of this shorts block might actually be my favorite piece for no other reason that it made the most sense to me and had the strongest connection through its symbolism. With some dark humor amidst the narration, the short plays out the doubt and esteem issues suffered by our protagonist as she simply tries to caulk her bathtub. It's a powerful example of the debilitation of anxiety and the overwhelming doubt it can cause.
Dusseldorf - A young woman inserts herself into an argument between a couple in a parking lot only to have it devolve into a surreal discussion.
This is certainly one of the shorts I was talking about in my preface. It's quirky and funny at times, with its awkward timing, seemingly improvised dialogue, and weird interactions...but at the end of the day, I have no idea what the point was. Perhaps there wasn't one beyond the obvious; you can usually work things out if you talk it out. And now we know in a Napolean Dynamite-esque fashion.
Emergency Action Plan - A paranoid man finds himself in a self-fulfilling downward spiral after watching an "active shooter scenario" video.
The overarching point of this plot went over my head. Is it intended to just be darkly humorous? Is it saying that no matter how much we try to avoid or prepare for active shooters, the personalities prone to this behavior will always exist? Is it anti or pro cop? I couldn't tell you. What I can tell you is that it was mildly entertaining.
Hipolita - After an old woman has an accident, her ward takes it upon itself to roam free.
The only thing more unsettling than the appearance and behavior of "the ward" is the utter lack of sense I can make of it all. While I wouldn't technically classify it as horror, its material is disturbing enough that it could easily pass as that. I think what makes it all the more confusing is that I'm not convinced it had any intention of being on the horror spectrum. I'm admittedly lost on this one.
Unfinished Business - A male stripper dances for a group of female undead.
What starts out quirky and pretty hilarious eventually devolves into a weird Thriller-esque dance and an awkward ending. Perhaps the most horror-oriented of all these shorts, it lacked a punch at the end that would have really encapsulated the story and made for easily the best short of the bunch.
Lusty Crest - Like a softcore porn plot meets Alice in Wonderland with the tiniest dash of Tales from the Crypt.
That is the best way I can think of to describe this piece that satirizes several formats at once, amalgamating into a film with hilarious yet delirious scenes. It was funny, but inevitably, again...I'm not sure what the point was. (Side note: The random bat attack scene might be the funniest moment amongst all of these shorts.)
They Salivate - Described as "a kiss that is drunk, stolen, and shared" over the course of an evening.
While this synopsis technically sums up what happens during an almost entirely wordless event (and the words selected to be spoken are odd to say the least), it fails to grasp the visceral nastiness of said "kiss". Arguably the most disgusting non-horror thing I've ever seen, They Salivate uses nausea to induce discomfort and convey a message about...relationships?...maybe?...And the moral of the story is that they are disgusting and spread disease, apparently.
Mickey Reece's Belle Ile - Through an interview format interspersed with clips, a micro-budget film director recollects his filmmaking journey.
Having admittedly never heard of Mickey Reece, I had to look up the name just to know if this pseudo-documentary short was based on a real person or was a fabricated reality constructed for some kind of satire. As it turns out, he is a very real person with a very long filmography, as he has averaged 2 films a year since 2008. His unique approach to filmmaking (involving the refusal to do anything the same twice) has led to a cult following of sorts, though the legitimacy of his art form goes over my head.
While some of these shorts certainly contained material that was dark, disturbing, and sometimes disgusting, they were also a significant change of pace from what we usually review here at Sickle & Efrit. And perhaps the sophistication behind a veil of verbose yet ambiguous dialogue and metaphorical imagery was too much for my undead, decomposing brain. But it was certainly an experience worth taking.