[Short horror film The Captured Bird screens tonight in front of Paul Hough's The Human Race in the Hall Theatre at Fantasia. To celebrate its unveiling to the Francophone City, here is Kurt's previous review from CFC's World Wide Short Festival.]
A tranquil, domesticated park, shows a couple caught up in their new infant, while their six year-old daughter (round-faced Skyler Wexler, clad in white satin and bows) draws pictures with chalk on the playground. The establishing shots are held just a fraction of a second longer than perhaps necessary, which is unsettling in and of itself before black ooze burbles up from cracks in the brickwork.
The Captured Bird does what a horror film should do. That is to say, it makes your skin crawl and devours a tiny piece of your soul; all this as it postulates a warped beauty about the destruction of all things innocent. Jovanka Vuckovic's handsomely produced short pays homage to Lovecraft by way of its imagery, but diverges from the Miskatonic Master in that its own 'forbidden knowledge' - that which exists just beyond the boundary of familial safety for the pretty young girl - is far more feminine in nature. One might read the film as the loss of innocence from childhood to motherhood (and beyond) played out in the span of eight disturbing minutes. The discovery and awe of a city-like castle, the tentative touch of a tentacle, the flow of fluids, and the eventual release of parasitic spawn into the world are ripe with metaphoric possibility. Life is full of wonders and the discovery of new things (including offspring) is chief among such wonders. Yet the shadow-side of all of this joy in the human experience is the anxieties which drive our nightmares about the unknown of what lies ahead. The Captured Bird places a tentative finger on that pulse, and might, for a moment or two, quicken yours.
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