I use the fact that I have paid my hard earned cash to justify my general piss-take when it comes to writing reviews. The stakes have now been raised as I have been asked to review three short films by Jeremiah Kipp. It is a touching honour but I have to wonder what hell he was doing asking the laziest blogger in the history of the internet to commit to the task. I suspect this will be a learning experience for us both.
Aside from the odd Disney short I know nothing about the genre but, here goes everything..........
1 - Painkiller
PLOT: In an attempt to eradicate pain in terminal cancer patients two young scientists create an organism which attaches itself to a host and feeds on their pain, releasing endorphins into the host’s system as a reward. When testing the organism they discover that the host becomes addicted to the endorphins and will stop at nothing to inflict pain on themselves in order to get their fix. END PLOT
I am not too critical when it comes to scientific breakthroughs in the world of cinema and I tend to roll with whatever has been created in a lab without too much trouble. The idea of an organism taking pain and leaving pleasure is fine and the scientific explanation of this discovery was short and sweet but it needed to be so.
The clever aspect of Painkiller isn’t the science but the theme of addiction and how far people are willing to go to achieve an end result. The dark and seedy nature of the closing scene will stick in the mind for quite a while.
The film flows well although the strangulation scene didn’t quite work for me as I would have preferred to spend more time with the two scientists especially when they were dealing with the need to curb the addiction.
Overall Painkiller is a compact story which caused me to wince on numerous occasions.
2 - Berenice
I normally refuse to do any research before I review a film but I broke this rule by going to my bookshelf to find my Edgar Allan Poe book. It wasn’t a worthwhile journey as Poe’s Berenice wasn’t included in the selection. I decided that I could partake in no further research and watched the film as uninformed as normal.
PLOT: When his cousin Berenice (Cheryl Koski) comes to stay Edward (Thomas Mendoza) quickly begins to fall in love with her, some parts more than others. END PLOT
Thomas Mendoza is excellent as Edward and it was unsettling to watch his quiet obsession with the beautiful Berenice grow. It wasn’t until the final few scenes that I realised just how deep his obsession grew and with what part of her body.
The gothic themes associated with Edgar Allan Poe work well in a modern day setting as did Edward’s dream sequences. The closing shot and everything that it implied made the film much darker than I would have guessed when watching it. I loved it!
As the closing shot completely floored me Berenice got a second viewing so that I could appreciate all the little moments that I had missed first time around.
Alone is a short little film clocking in at around 90seconds and is a retelling of the poem of the same name by Edgar Allan Poe. The poem is told by Adam Ginsberg who has the same weathered facial expressions as the great Brendan Gleeson.
There are some clever flashes to scenes which complement the poem but I was always grateful to be taken back to Ginsberg as it's his sombre eyes that suck you into the film.
I watched Alone several times as I was trying to think about what to write but then I realised I was watching it because I was falling in love with it. It is simple filmmaking but very effective.
Something a bit different from my usual mainstream ramblings so thank you to Jeremiah for the opportunity!