The Movie Waffler Shorts Showcase - <i>RING RING / PLEASE PUNISH ME / THE HORRORS OF AUTOCORRECT</i> | The Movie Waffler


We take a look at three recent short films.

Reviews by Benjamin Poole

Ring Ring
In Daniel Harding’s enigmatic British short Ring Ring, Martin (Steve Sipple) wraps up a birthday present of a telephone for his girlfriend Lucy (Harriet Madeley). The phone in question isn’t a top of the range Samsung, or even an iphone; Lucy is an aficionado of antiques, and so this is an old-school, chunky sort of telephone, the kind you just don’t see these days. But what makes this rotary dial telephone even more unique is that the ancient machine rings even when unplugged… Martin promptly unwraps the spooky machine and answers it, only to discover that, somehow, the phone is allowing him to overhear Lucy’s private conversations.
As an exploration of the shadowy uncertainties and insecurity that exists outside the ostensible safety of many relationships, Ring Ring intrigues. Lucy and Martin are at a threshold: they're not at the living together stage yet, and so while Lucy works and socialises, Martin spends his time rattling around his flat in a fug of needy paranoia. He eats pizza and watches piles of blurays, as his printer churns out yet another curriculum vitae ….all the while waiting intensely for the phone to ring again. Throughout the short’s effectively chilly atmosphere, we’re never fully sure if the noise Martin hears at the end of the line is imaginary static or actual evidence of Lucy’s infidelity. This lack of connection is frustrating: Ring Ring is well acted, and creates a sophisticated uneasiness, but, for this waffler, it was perhaps a little too cryptic. Ring Ring can be viewed in full below.

Please Punish Me
Another kind of urban dissatisfaction can be found in Chris Epser’s well-made Please Punish Me, as David Sackal plays hapless Scottie, a young businessman who is fed up of his workaday lot of macho boardrooms that reek with cigar smoke and the hollow ring of obsequious laughter. Ducking out of such a meeting to hang with a similarly disillusioned colleague, he is presented with a card for the ‘Punish Me Palace’, and is curious to experience the dubious pleasures invoked by the pink hued eponym.
Acting on the impulse, Scottie makes his way to the ‘palace’, wherein he is promptly escorted to an ornate room and left to await his punishment. Enter Michelle (Joanna Donofrio), a nervous escort in Catwoman drag. Over the course of their transaction, the two lost souls eventually bond over, well, a form of bondage and banter. The effectiveness of Please Punish Me will depend on how shocked you are by a lingering shot of a buttplug: the film seems to take it for granted that the audience will be aghast at the sort of carry on that it portrays, but in a day and age where Fifty Shades of Grey does box office, I’m not sure many people will be. There’s also an offensively weird tendency for characters to refer to people into non-vanilla sexual relations as ‘sickos’, and its inferred that Scottie seeks out the encounter for masochistic punishment due to the implications of his profession (post economic meltdown, big business is the source of much cinematic vilification), rather than the satisfaction of his own desire - as if there is something inherently suspect about his pursuit. Live and let live I say, there’s far worse things that people could be getting up to than a little consensual horseplay. Don’t worry though Daily Mail readers, Scottie doesn’t really enjoy receiving it, and Michelle apparently doesn’t get off giving it either - she’s been ‘forced’ into the job to provide for her three year old son, and (laying it on a bit thick here), she used to be a nurse to boot; this is what happens when the economy crashes, people helplessly turn to the depravity of high class prostitution! It’s very fortunate then, that Scottie can cut a check to both rescue her and give us a happy ending, a conservative money-talks, individual-sexual-identity- walks ideology more distasteful than anything mustered in the Punish Me Palace.

The Horrors of Autocorrect
Back to phones and mismatched couples again as blurred lines occur in Alex DiVincenzo’s silly little short The Horrors of Autocorrect, wherein typical teen fodder Jenny (Jaquelyn Fabian ) snacks and watches old horror films in a big, lonely house, only to be nuisance called by ham-fisted pest The Man (Nick Principe). The deliberate allusions to Scream are efficiently dealt with early on (along with a witty shout out to Fruedian minefield Freddy’s Revenge), as Jenny insists that if her Unknown Caller is going to insist on harassing her, then the least he could do is text rather than phone. Of course, The Man’s big murderer’s gloves cause touchscreen problems, and, as the title suggests, Apple’s autocorrect causes any dark serial killer threats to get lightened in translation - telling Jenny she has two minutes to live so ‘keep your eyes on the cock’, that he wants to ‘ducking kill her’, etc. Reading back, the vaguely sexual nature of the malapropisms seem far more menacing and unpleasant than the original intended messages - lets be grateful The Man didn’t text that he wanted to ‘dual your aunt’ or ‘kick your puppy’…
More of a sketch than a short, but fun enough for it, The Horrors of Autocorrect is available to dial up for a knowing chuckle and a couple of groans below.

Ring Ring

Please Punish Me (Trailer)

The Horrors of Autocorrect