Shorts Showcase - TEXTUAL RELATIONSHIP / FIRST NIGHT IN THE NEW HOUSE / ANGELIC WOLVES

We take a look at a trio of new short films.



Reviews by Benjamin Poole (@filmclubchs)


Angelic Wolves
In the monochrome fantasy Angelic Wolves, sultry but sweet Eve (Anna Crysell) goes down to the woods one day and finds herself in for a big surprise. Between dreamily wandering through fondly filmed close ups of flowers, branches and turtles (!) tree hugger Eve happens upon Johnny (Braedon Badde), shimmying half way up an ancient oak. Johnny is fit, rugged and sensitive to his environment… he seemingly has it all, and then some in fact, as it transpires that Johnny is actually a werewolf! Well, no one is perfect, and Johnny’s predicament turns out to be not that much of a deal breaker, actually. After all, Eve is part of the Twilight generation, who expect their supernatural monsters to be wistful hunks, dedicated to protecting their human beaus, and rippling their muscles rather than baring their fangs (yes, there are several -impressive- shirt off moments).
Angelic Wolves has the jejune feel of a student project, with all the neophyte experimentalism that such an ambiance would imply. For example, the film makers have chosen to render the cinematography monochrome, using that vintage filter you get on iMovie. I’ve no idea why; the process seems to soft bleach the background into a blur, and the cosmetic scratches the film has (part of the ‘aged’ process the app creates) look peculiar, as the film is otherwise drastically modern. But then the content of Angelic Wolves is completely bizarre too. The concept doesn’t go much further than ‘what if a nice girl met a handsome stranger in the woods, and they hit it off?’, which is probably a fantasy we’ve all had in some way or another, but Angelic Wolves’ characterisation doesn’t develop beyond that initial notion. Instead, we cut to jarringly weird scenes; apropos of nothing, some nob in a balaclava tries to burn the woods down, and, in his role as protector of the forest, Wolfman Johnny proceeds to (off camera, thank goodness) anally fist him to death, finally tearing out his spinal column! Some more characters turn up - a serial killer and a voice that lives in a tree - that seem to bear no relationship to the rest of the short. When Eve wakes up to a bleeding skull on her bed side table, and Johnny proceeds to give her some flannel about werewolves actually being angels, I began to wonder if the film makers had been on the wolfsbane.


First Night in the New House
In the interests of balance, it was refreshing how Eve doesn’t automatically cower in terror at the werewolf in Angelic Wolves, instead preferring to philosophise on the nature of wonder (the wolfsbane talking?) A similar heroine features in First Night in the New House, with this particular teen girl being kept awake by a strange throaty rattle, eerily croaking from somewhere inside her new home. In a characterisation that seems fresh, the girl is irritated, rather than unnerved by the noise, but the audience will feel certainly uneasy as the tension expertly builds in this witty, polished short. As the wind menacingly hisses outside, the girl slowly navigates the unfamiliar dark of the new home; seemingly rid of the annoying clamour, she returns to her room, exasperated and tired. But –yikes! - what is that weird shape under the bed sheets?! 
First Night in the New House is a straightforward but fun and scary short. It proper gave me the willies, and I’ll be showing it at my Halloween party next month (although the pendant in me did observe that if it was the girl’s first night in a new house, then she had done a really efficient job unpacking). You can see the short gratis here: youtube.com/watch?v=tJJtclBRO1I And, if you are so inclined, you can help the film makers behind it raise money to turn it into a full length feature here: indiegogo.com/projects/the-crazy-house#/story


Textual Relationship
Finally, we have Textual Relationship, a breezy rom com concerning the limits and amusing comic potentials of internet dating, and which is possessed of such cheeky energy and charm it is simply impossible to dislike. David Frias-Robles and Sarah Langrish-Smith play two skype-crossed lovers, known only by their usernames DarkDemon92 and Uniquetalent_33, who meet cute on a social media site. They begin a relationship which blossoms through a multitude of sexts and texts, pics and flicks, and lovely visual touches such as Uniquetalent_33 sleeping with her arm around her iPad, which screens the youcammed face of DarkDemon92, also blissfully snoozing. Conflict arises, however, when the couple discover that the face to face reality of each other doesn’t quite match up to the excitement of their online trysts…  
The comic rhythm of Textual Relationship has the tight cadence of a well told joke, and the two leads are superb comic performers who bring writers Tom Glover and Syd Heather’s sharply observed script to life. Although, personally, I can’t agree with the ideology of the film, as I am of a hopelessly romantic nature and would like to think that true love is just as likely to manifest online as it is in the ‘real world’ (after all, things written online can often be incredibly profound, ahem) there is no denying the wit, poignancy and originality of the storytelling on display here. From the twin voiceover that opens it to the cruel, post-it note delivered denouement, Textual Relationship deserves a well earned ‘like’.




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