Monday, October 17, 2011

Halloween Horror Challenge Oct 12: Adam Wingard Short Films

1000 YEAR DEATH (2005) and THE GIRLFRIEND (2007)
D. Adam Wingard
Synapse Films
Both are extras on the HOME SICK DVD

Both of these are extra feature short films on the DVD of Wingard's feature film HOME SICK. Both are in fact better than the feature film they are supporting.

1000 YEAR DEATH is a small short art film that quickly becomes a one joke movie that thankfully is a very funny joke. For the most part it is artfully short, erotically charged shots of four young teenage girls, two lesbians, and two other girls as they go about their day to day lives. A narrator begins to explain how these four girls are victims of a violent serial killer, That their lives have been cut short by his wrath that they will never go on to do the various things that young girls go on to do. We hear the lives of each of these girls WOULD have had, had they not met this violent man. We see them meet him, get strangled and drag their bodies to hide them. He narrates this while it is happening, especially that one of the girl's bodies will never be found. That is when a surprise ending comes to the forefront that changes everything we have just seen. Making it suddenly more of a comedy of errors than the brutal art piece we have been watching. But it actually IS very funny.

THE GIRLFRIEND is vastly different. A much more straight forward horror piece about a newer couple where the girl seems to be more committed than the man. She has convinced him to take her to meet his parents for the weekend, though it is clear he is not so into the idea. Pre-credits they stop at a late night convenience store so she can use the restroom and she runs into a some sort of evil entity that killed the clerk. Clearly what ever she ran into at the story has either possessed her or took over her body. Once they meet his parents the NEW version of the girlfriend charms his parents and is a much more erotically charged but clearly dangerous person. His sister, who seems to be more than a little bit sexually interested in him as well, seems to be clued into what is going on, but not before his family starts dying.

The first film is an exercise if formalism that gives way to suddenly comedy. THE GIRLFRIEND is a very creepy exercise in horror fully of atmosphere and tension. The performers and good, but it is the queasy feeling of ongoing dread and uneasy sexual tension that keeps this one alive.

Wingard shows a terrific visual mastery of the genre with these shorts. It is easy to see how they landed him enough dough to make a feature, It is too bad that feature was such a troubled production that it became HOME SICK. But I hear nothing but great things about his new film A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE. 

Review © Andrew Copp

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