Short: She

Directed by: Chelsey Burdon & Mark Vessey
Written by:  Chelsey Burdon & Mark Vessey
Cast: Fiona Dourif, Phillip James 

Stuck in a domineering and controlling relationship, She is backed into a corner and plans the ultimate revenge.


 


 

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I had no idea what “She” was about, I managed to see this film up at Grimm up North back in October an while I was suitably impressed with the film it’s only after today’s re-watch that I realised just how good this short really is.

“She” is a powerful experience, it’s hard to describe what emotions this short film takes you through. With its minimalistic concept, its one location, two cast members and one line of dialogue it manages to deliver so much tension and story it really is quite breath taking. Just from the look of the house, the body language and their expressions you understand the back story in an instant. You know where this relationship is at, the pain and suffering it is causing the woman, the hate and disgust he has for her, you really don’t need words or flashbacks to paint this picture any clearer. As uncomfortable as it is to watch, I was still riveted to the screen, even knowing the films outcome, I was drawn into this painful world, even at the end I just couldn’t take my eyes off it! God did I cringe!

Phillip James does a superb job with his role but it is Fiona Dourif who is simply sensational, her looks of disdain, the fear in her eyes and her tense body language just made me believe her character completely. The scene with her laughing is also rather unnerving as well. An incredible performance.

Written and Directed by Mark Vessey and Chelsea Burdon, they have created an intelligent and thought provoking film. They have used just enough visuals to accompany the already obvious scenario and to drive the story forward to its rather hard hitting 3rd act. The cinematography by David Meadows is rather good, the dinner table scene is brilliantly shot and the whole thing is nicely edited by Mitch Harrod.

The Gorilla Club in Manchester really didn’t do this short justice, the sound wasn’t great, the projection wasn’t the best but I’m really pleased to have seen it again, and rather gutted I missed it at Frightfest, the audience reaction must have been priceless.

While I can see some saying it’s just about that 3rd act, Vassey and Burdon are just out to shock you, for me what actually comes before that is just as shocking. This is a fabulous short film!


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Something has been troubling me since I watched She. No, not the mutilation by pairing knife ( I have to admit I’m not sure it was a pairing knife, or even what a pairing knife inserted), but that is most certainly troubling for a good fifty per cent of the populace. No, the troubling thing was that I felt curiously detached from the film, something just didn’t quite work for me.

The premise is simple enough, as many of the best shorts are) a married couple, with a distinction all relationship, he drinks and is abusive, she is withdrawn and seemingly accepting of her fate. Finally pushed too far the woman (Fiona Dourif) drugs her partner and performs a ( extremely well done) bit of DIY penis operating. Trust me, it’s not a case of any cutaways, it’s all there in graphic detail.

So, if the ending delivered a suitably impressive finale, why does the film not quite work? Well, certainly the foreshadowing of having the female character cutting up carrots at the beginning doesn’t help. It’s a little too literal, and signposted the likely outcome battle of vegetable knife vs penis far too obviously. Also the husband character, due in no doubt to the need to show him as a thoroughly despicable abuser, doesn’t quite stand as a rounded character. Had there been something redeeming or at least some empathy shown for his character the penis abuse would have been far more powerful. As it is its a bit of a, ‘well, he deserved it”, “next!”

This isn’t to take away from an ending that has understandably had some very positive responses on the festival circuit, it’s a well made short, but does feel like there was an even better short that it could have been. Worth a watch though.



As a short for me, She didn’t totally work.
The film opens on a couple waking and beginning their day, which quickly devolves into a horrible scene of sexual violence, highlighting the dominant relationship between them.  The expansion of the characters in the relationship, while shown to be abusive and domineering, never really ramps up on camera enough to go where the film does in its 15 minute runtime. Watching She, It felt like watching a film where you’ve come in 20-30 minutes late. The background and character development has already happened, you’re just not privy to it. As an audience all we are left with is the continuing relationship between the couple in the house. With the exception of the brutality of the opening scene everything else is done with a look and a glance, which makes the situation all the more uncomfortable. The lack of dialogue leaves the film almost playing like a silent movie which, for me worked well. ‘She’ (Fiona Dorff) is beaten down so much so, she seems to be an empty shell of a person and becomes driven to the coming events.

When the film reaches the third act, it becomes very violent and turns the dynamic of the relationship on it’s head. The flip from the rough mental and physical dominance of the man to the extreme brutality of the woman is a big difference within the film. It just feels like such a gear change when it occurs that it is a little jarring, you expect SOMETHING to happen, just not THAT. (if you can’t tell Im trying to not say what).  She felt like the makers had the idea for the end scene and then wrote a script that would purposely lead up to that point. IT certainly has a lot of fans, Mike I know is one of them. I felt like I wanted more development to situation depicted in the film before the end scene.


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Opening with humdrum scenes of everyday normality, on first appearances I was thinking where exactly is this going. As it progresses we learn it’s a much more abusive relationship where fear dominates their lives and she is basically there to be used by him. However this switches massively midway through this short and whilst there are glimpses that something is about to happen it will not prepare you for what exactly does happen.

This is a very clever and creative piece of film making that made me laugh but also made me want to puke in equal measure. Truly horrifying and in no way at all will you expect the level of violence and gore that ensues in the last few minutes.

Brilliant piece of short film making, adored this and hated it in equal measure and that takes some doing.


She is currently on the festival circuit

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