SHE (short film 2014) – Review

FF bannershepicSHE (short) (2014)

Dir: Mark Vessey, Chelsey Burdon
Written By: Mark Vessey, Chelsey Burdon
Starring: Fiona Dourif, Philip James
15 mins.

UK release: Frightfest 2014

A woman trapped in an abusive relationship decides to take revenge on her lover, just in time for their anniversary celebrations.

Following a stunning, breakthrough performance in last year’s well-received Curse Of Chucky, alongside her father Brad, the talented Fiona Dourif further solidifies her burgeoning Scream Queen reputation in SHE, which premièred at Frightfest 2014, as a woman forced to turn to drastic measures in order to punish the man who has been abusing her.

Opening with a shot of a couple waking up in bed together – quickly followed by a well-judged, but still rough, rape sequence over some chopped carrots – Dourif’s beautifully pained face remains the focus of this nasty little short throughout. Clearly terrified of Philip James’s He, Dourif epitomises the idea of a trapped, hopeless victim, with a quickly shut door symbolising her lack of an escape.

However, when she turns, and her eyes darken, what should be jarring instead makes perfect sense. Although we only know She for a short time, her transition from desperate woman to triumphant revenge-seeker is totally justified. Considering the two only have one line of dialogue between them, it’s a testament to the strength of their performances that their entire, fractured history is communicated with just a few shared glances.

David Meadows’ – whose credits include The Human Centipede II and III – cinematography contrasts harsh, stark whites against deep, gooey reds. The home the couple shares feels clinical, the interior almost surgical, while every object seems somehow phallic in nature. Sound is of the utmost importance here, too, with the butchering of a carrot by She, and a piece of meat by He, of particular significance.

The first shock of blood is great, but the money shot that follows it is worth watching the film for alone. Boasting some seriously impressive, practical special effects, it’s lengthy and effectively nasty. In fact, when SHE screened at Frightfest, the sequence was met with audible gasps from the audience – in particular, the males present – and it’s easy to see why.

shepic1The parting shot is nicely creepy, too, although it’s subtler than what came before. Considering this was announced as the first in a trilogy, upon its festival debut, it stands to reason that the final glimpse of She is what it is. It will be interesting to see how the story progresses, in light of what state He is in at the end, too.

Special thanks are given to the Soska sisters, following the credits, and their influence on young filmmakers Burdon and Vessey is evident. Their output, too, is gory, thought-provoking and arguably feminist in tone. But SHE has a fire that is entirely its, or rather her, own, one that burns fiercely and is present in the tiniest flicker of a candle’s flame, or the deadly gleam of a steak knife.

Rating: 7/10

SHE will be screened at Grimmfest on October 2nd – info HERE