Saturday, August 19, 2017 16:48

Mini reviews: short films Where's Mary? (2005) and Girl Drinks Darkness (2010)

(Both directed by Sid Sabbath aka Tony Hickson)

Where’s Mary?(2005) (5 mins)

Oliver-Postgate-does-serial-killers in this deliberately-offbeat take on the story of killer Mary Bell who, at the tender age of 10, committed a double murder in 1960s Newcastle. The film uses garish puppets to play out elements of her story while a sing-song narrative relates Mary’s decidedly fragmentary state of mind to the audience. The gap between the nastiness of the crimes and the irreverent fun of this take on events works pretty well, and evidently some care went into getting the sound and directing right. Using what is often seen as a kids medium (at least round these parts) like puppetry even on a shoestring budget, to play out the story of a killer child? It’s an idea crazy enough to work, even if skilled puppeteering doesn’t really feature!

Girl Drinks Darkness (2010) (5 mins approx)

Tony’s new film Girl Drinks Darkness (great title) is a film about a suicide, and – because of its disassociated female protagonist and the slow, protracted suicide itself, feels very voyeuristic – more like looking at a tableau or a painting than at a film. The style and high yellow colouration is reminiscent of 70s exploitation cinema – the sort of effect used by Jim van Bebber in his arthouse-styled Manson Family – vivid, and somehow psychedelic by proxy. Unfortunately, this film has been struck by the Curse of the Low Budget Film – the sound quality is poor, with several flaws and cut-outs. Blending poetry with film is a decent idea, although the repetition of the word ‘cut’ from the poem grated on me a little, and it has to be said – the gratuitous sexualisation of the film’s only actress is never going to please everyone. The unusual style of the film is its main selling point – and it’s being sent to lots of film festivals this summer, so look out for it on the circuit.

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