Directed by: Andy Stewart
Written by: Andy Stewart
Cast: Austin Hayden, Shian Denovan
The story of a man who awakens one day infected with a virus, as large pustules and boils form across his body, he breaks down as the revelations of his private life become apparent.
In 2012 I had the ‘pleasure’ of catching Dysmorphia at Grimm Fest. It was sick, disgusting and for some reason clicked. I loved the payoff after dealing with the previous 10 minutes of horrific visuals that made Embarrassing Bodies look like playschool. Then I found out Split and Ink two new films from Dysmorphia director Andy Stewart would be at Celluloid Screams.
Split takes the ideas and basic effects of Dysmorphia and knocks them out of the park. The quality of the makeup and prosthetics (thanks to Grant Mason FX) on the lead actor are just are outstanding. Instead of focusing on something self inflicted like in his other shorts, Stewart shows a mans depression and guilt eating him from this inside as a disgusting viral infection complete with huge puss filled boils, shedding, bleeding and complete physical respiratory breakdown. Its a great analogy of physically watching someone being eaten away mentally for their transgressions.
I really cannot underline how much technically Split is a massive leap forward from Dysmorphia. Mainly this will be down to the budget and the crew he was able to assemble due to the notoriety Stewart has gained over the last few years from his first short. On almost every level this film is more polished, focused and still unapologetically gory to the extreme (and for some most likely taking it too far).
I had been looking forward to seeing how you follow Dysmorphia, I was glad to see Stewart take a bold step forward in quality with his second short instead of flatlining and making the same thing. Just wish it hadn’t been screened right after breakfast.
Right from the off I found that SPLIT was going to be one of those WTF have I just seen kind of shorts. Opening with the post break up scene and what appears to be an extra nipple this is one sick short movie and not one to watch just after eating! Various flashbacks as we go along show our lead characters past life up to the events of the current day but don’t really give too much away, it very cleverly allows you to fill in the gaps yourself and ask what is really going on outside leading up to this point.
What really stands out for me in this are the quality of the effects and prosthetics as grotesque as they are they are so brilliantly done. It shows those behind the movie really know and care about making it look as disturbing as possible and is that was their original aim then they achieve it so bloody well!
SPLIT never really explains what is going on outside to have caused these events but it does focus very well on a heartbroken zombie. Part of that is its charm, part of that is also its flaw too, even if it was just a radio broadcast or sound of a TV in the background.
Did I like it? Yes I did. It’s clever, it lets you fill in the gaps and in places it’s just nasty and gross but it’s made with a lot of love.
Andy Stewart continues his work on Body Horror, with this rather grotesque little short, Split. Yet as grotesque as it is, it’s still a fascinating watch, it certainly is different and rather refreshing to see the angle Stewart has taken to most break up films I’ve seen. Usually our protagonist just wallows in despair with drugs or alcohol abuse. Not here we see the body give up, see it shut down as we watch him decay in front of our eyes. This is one messy film, it starts with one smallish puss filled boil, which splatters the mirror making you wretch and laugh at the same time. From here it just gets worse, as the body destroys itself, of course I’m not saying anymore don’t want to spoil it for you.
It’s not just about watching this man’s body fall apart, Stewart fills in the story with a number of flashbacks, as we see the couple in love and the reason for the break up. It all works really well, however Stewart is vague over the actual conditions of the illness, or at least it’s cause; guilt, depression, laziness are key factors and Stewart just takes each medical condition to the extreme, well it is a horror film isn’t it.
Austin Hayden and Shian Denovan are both very good as the couple, but it’s Hayden’s transformation which both he and the makeup team handle brilliantly. The make-up effects are just outstanding and extremely realistic, I was very impressed by them.
I want to say I enjoy watching it, but I can’t; it’s an experience that’s for sure, I do cringe a little, though I do laugh as well, you know one of those disgusted laughs when you are not sure what to really do. In the end it’s a very impressive short and one of my favourites I saw at Celluloid Screams.
You can watch the full short below. Enjoy!