Welcome to Dirty Shorts, which has nothing to do with that festering pile of laundry in the corner. Not this time, anyway. This is a series of reviews of short horror films, with a touch of analysis and some snark, for good measure.
Directed by Will Nail
THE STORY: A hot chick and her dumpy looking guy go on a picnic, drink some wine, and someone dies. Or do they? Did I mention there was a pie?
THE RUNDOWN: I just finished Devil Woods and the credits come up at the end and I noticed something kind of odd: there is no writing credit. I mean this thing had to be written, right? Well, there’s no dialogue, but that’s okay. Some movies like the Bear (1988) or All is Lost (2013) relied on the visual aspect of filmmaking to propel a narrative. However the Bear was a book by James Oliver Curwood before it was a screenplay by Gérard Brach and All is Lost was written by writer/director and College of Wooster alum, J. C. Chandor. I’m just going to assume Will Nail wrote this thing because it seems like something a director could come up with.
I’m going to hook all of you up with a sad fact of life: not everyone can write. I don’t mean these individuals lack the fundamental ability to communicate via reading and writing the written word. I mean they don’t know how to string moments together to make a story. A beginning, a middle, and an end do not a story make.
Spoiler alert? Do I even care at this point? Here’s exactly what happens. A couple is on a picnic. We’re not sure of their relationship, if there is a relationship, but I can tell you this: it does not matter. Then they break out the wine. Part of me is surprised that it’s not a red being served from a box but hey, look at this white couple go. They’re on a blanket. They’re drinking responsibly. Then, holy shit, the woman goes to her Mazda four door to get a pie. I’ve got to tell you, this pie may be the best written character in this whole short film because boom suddenly this pie is now covered in maggots and the woman is lost in the woods.
She drops the pie, then moments later steps on it, murdering the best actor in the film. Now she is running from something that wants to kill her, but because this is a horror short, there has to be a twist, right? Like, I think you get put in horror jail if you don’t provide some sort of twist. What’s the twist this time, you ask?
It turns out that she had a total break with reality and murdered the guy she was with using what I believe to be a cheese knife. Excuse me, murdered and decapitated the guy she was with using a cheese knife. Now, in all fairness, they went big with this cheese knife and if you were going to kill someone with a cheese knife, this is the one you might pick but still. Oh yeah and then she jump scares the audience after having been (presumably) possessed by an evil entity in the woods that also forced her to put in scary contacts, rub dye on her teeth, and slap some Spencer’s Gifts level FX makeup on her face. Then it’s over. Then there’s credits. Now we’ve come full circle to the lack of a writing credit.
What I’ve just watched could not be a better example of why you should have a well trained writer work on your film as opposed to just slapping a few story beats that are “cool.” Have you ever noticed a bunch of cool ideas slapped together never ends up actually being cool? Just confusing or befuddling. Sort of like in Devil Woods. Now, I am a firm believer in the Stanley Kubrick mantra, “The question is always more interesting than the answer” but when that axiom is used to cover up plot holes and irrational or unearned motivations… its an ugly, ugly crutch to lean on.
WHAT MOVIE SHOULD I WATCH AFTER THIS? Dead Girl (2008), The Dead Hate the Living (2000), Night of the Living Dead 3D (2006)*
*I don’t want you to watch these movies. I care about you and you deserve better.
Images courtesy of YouTube
Writer. Wrestling mark. Dog parent. Halloween enthusiast. Always wondering about the me on Earth 616 and what he/she/it’s up to. Currently residing in Los Angeles.