short film review

Reviews and news about short films, short film festivals, reviews, links and guides to short films online,images from short films,directors,writers,cinemaphotographers. Copyright 2005, 2006 by Allan Maurer. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Stephen King Thriller "Strawberry Spring" is Foggy

Stephen King is a poet of horror. You hear his dark poetry in this short film just under 8 minutes based on his story "Straawberry Spring."

"Stawberry Spring is a false spring, a lying spring." It brings a "strange, magical fog," and in this short, multiple murders. The student narrator quotes King's poetic steam-of-consciousness dialog. "Whoever killed her took his head with him." And later, after another serial killing, "When they found her, she was all over the campus..." referring, Kingly, to her body parts.

King's work has not translated all that well to film, long or short. Even in the hands of directors as renowned as Stanley Kubrick, who lensed "The Shining," film adaptions of his novels and stories don't generally have the kick of his books. William Goldman's adaption of "Misery" directed by Rob Reiner and "The Green Mile," and "Stand by Me," fared better than most. The imagination often conjures horror better than visualization.

But the problems with "Strawberry Spring" resemble those of many another short movie we've seen. So many short films we see these days are technically intersting. They feature "frame" shots through mirrors and doors and car windshields ala Fassbinder and many another art house director. I'm all for it, too. Technique adds much visual pleasure to movies and it is all too often pedestrian. But atomosphere, particularly fog, gets in the way of clear exposition in this brief piece. Engagement in a story requires enough clarity to care about someone in the story.

It's a failing of many short films. The elipsis...the cut out parts...the cuts...fades...dissolves all leave us slightly confused rather than informed. Cinema is a language we should understand naturally. It's based on our mind's natural way of perceiving the world. So fog isn't a good thing in exposition. Despite all that, this story is just a little too predictable to have plot surprise.

"When police begin finding bodies on a college campus, all the students are shaken by the murders, except for one who is enchanted by them," says the promo on Ifilm for this short. Even that is more foreshawdowing than we need to figure out this all-too-common plot of the narrator did it.

Let's face it, the unreliable narrator has been around since Poe's "Tell Tale Heart," and Agathe Christie's "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd." Not that stealing plots is any sin. Plots are those repeating human conditions, trouble narratives, or just plain trouble.

Still, despite these reservations, this is a well made short piece, well worth your seven mintues or so. I've watched it several times and it does reward at least a second viewing, which isn't something I'd say about every short film I watch.

Here's the nitty-gritty. Strawberry Spring

Starring: Greg Lock, Morgan Hatch
Directed by: Doveed Linder
Distributed by: IFILM
Run Time: 7:52
Release Year: 2002

Rating: 17.5 of 24 frames.


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