September 2, 2016

Heir (2015)

Heir,  a Canadian-born short film from Fatal Pictures, funded via a Kickstarter campaign, was written and directed by Richard Powell, and produced by Zach Green. It's less than 14 minutes long, so I'm not going to go into great detail about the plot or post any spoilers. You'll just have to go check it out for yourself. It's still in post-production right now, but it will be available soon. In the meantime, you can go the Fatal Pictures website and check out some of their other short films. 

What I will say is that Heir does a good job of creating tension and curiosity for the viewer. The mix of ominous music and lighting, combined with some stellar practical effects, made for a gross-but-enjoyable little watch. It leaves you thinking about the film's metaphorical statement because there clearly is one. It isn't obvious at first glance, though. I had to read the director's statement to get the skinny on the subversive story's meaning. Go ahead and read it. It won't spoil the movie for you - in fact, I think it will make your viewing experience even more rife with tension, which is a good thing when you're watching spooky stuff.

Director's Statement: FATAL PICTURES' HEIR (2015),
Richard Powell
"HEIR is a monster movie unlike any other, it is a bleak and fantastical examination of one of societies darkest taboos that aims to stimulate the mind and wrench the gut with equal power. HEIR suggests that victimization through sexual abuse leads to mutation of the psyche, soul and in our film, flesh itself. As our film aims to examine the cycle of victimization it only makes sense to depict the various stages of victimization through a trio of characters; Father, Son and the Monster. Just as the Son represents the potential beginning of the cycle the monster reflects the dark and twisted ending and stuck between these two extremes is the father who is faced with a choice which may either break or continue the legacy he was unwillingly included in years ago in his own youth. HEIR is ultimately about the confrontation with that monster, literally and figuratively, which dwells in Gordon's mind and compels him to continue the chain of victimization. This film operates between the worlds of Drama and Horror and takes equally from both in terms of aesthetics, structure and style. As much as I'd like the audience to think about what they are seeing I want them to react viscerally to it as well and with that in mind we set out to create striking, often grotesque and extreme imagery which serves it's own purpose in addition to reinforcing the overall thesis of HEIR. I had originally intended to tell this story as a straight Drama with none of the fantastical Horror trappings. I thought a realistic version of this story would be more disturbing, truthful and effective but as I began to think about what this story really means I realized the metaphor I would end up employing tells a deeper truth despite the monster makeup and Argento-esque lighting. I realized the truest way to tackle the horrors of child abuse and victimization was to pull away the exterior of the human monsters who walk among us and expose the malignancy within. Any time I've been asked to describe HEIR I reply with a simple elevator pitch "They say that anyone who abuses a child is a monster, well what if they really were monsters?".

I also want to yawp a hearty "thank you" to Fatal Pictures for using practical effects (I've said it many times before and I'll say it again - CGI monsters are not scary!) and for hiring actors that are not only very good at what they do but also normal-looking people. I have a difficult time relating to way-too-beautiful-to-be-real actors and actresses in films, battling CGI monsters no less. I prefer characters that look like anyone I could know or meet on the street. It makes the whole thing feel more real and relatable. Are you listening, Hollyweird?!

This short film takes itself seriously and is well-done, yet also somehow manages to be fun. Keep your eyes out for a release date and give it a watch! Until then, here's a teaser trailer to keep you "hungry"...

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