Running time: 12 minutes
Director: David Chaudoir
Cast: Madeleine Bowyer
When horror presents itself in a comfortable familiar setting, it often feels at its most disturbing. The idea that pure evil can creep in to suburbia and infiltrate our rather mundane, ordinary lives is both exhilarating and terrifying in equal measure. The pain pleasure balance we all straddle when we sit down to watch a good horror flick is a delicate one to achieve, yet this short film from Director David Chaudoir, manages to lure us in with a wry smile and satisfies our suspicions that things are never really as they seem.
Adonis and Aphrodite has a simple premise, one female character delivers a monologue directly to camera in the surrounds of her greenhouse whilst she tends to her plants. Alan Bennett springs immediately to mind and it was nice to see a nod in that direction at the end of the film with a final ‘dedication’ issuing apologies to the man himself. Apologies however, are not needed as both the script and Madeleine Bowyer’s performance are intriguing and entertaining in equal measure. Full marks go to Bowyer for drawing you inside her world and so eloquently painting the picture of the avant garde neighbours next door that lure her and her husband down new paths, from swinging to some very questionable paganism.
The simplicity of the film allows the monologue to stand for itself, no tricks or titillating flashbacks are needed. Bowyer does all the work for us, allowing us to conjure up mental images that are often far worse than what could be depicted on screen. Laced with dry wit and all the middle class undertones of what may or may not be going on behind closed doors, this is pure storytelling. You’ll find yourself swept along with the narrative all the way to the dark and satisfying climax. The one issue with first person narration is that we never know how reliable our narrator is. Is everything really as it seems? Perhaps not, but whilst this thought may occur to you as you watch, it’s a small gripe to have.
This is not a short bursting at the seams with guts and gore and nor does it try to be. By sticking to storytelling first and foremost (and presumably helping the budget enormously), what you end up with is a film that feels respectful of its predecessors. It evokes the sense of a scary story told around the campfire or a disturbing Dahl-esque look behind the closed door of polite British society. It manages to be contemporary whilst retaining a comforting connection to the past.
Having both written and directed Adonis and Aphrodite, it’s clear that Chaudoir has a love of the dark side of life and an understanding of the humour that lies alongside it. He deftly manages to strike the balance, coaxing the viewer with a smile before revealing the truth that may (or may not) lie beneath. The monologue nature of the short means that you feel somewhat complicit in the story being told which, for me at least, makes it all the more entertaining. Based on this, I’m intrigued to see what Chaudoir’s second short, Bad Acid, will bring; more great storytelling and strong performances I hope. No pressure then.
7 out of 10