Short Film Review
I'm a bit of a unique fan of the horror genre in that the focus of my graduate studies was in Forensic Psychology. I've actually studied case histories of psychopaths, sexual predators, and serial killers. In reality, they are horrible, empty creatures, motivated solely by a disturbed fantasy system and seeking solely to satisfy warped sexual desires. Which they do by raping and killing... or killing and then raping... or just killing...
Fascinating, dynamic characters like Dexter or Hannibal Lecter do not really exist in nature, and we'd be better off if we found different and better monsters.
It is for this reason that I get a little squeamish when watching movies about serial killers, especially if the movie could be internalized into a potential killer's fantasy structure. Ted Bundy admitted that he used slasher/horror movies in this way. I didn't like the remake of Maniac, which I actually thought was a fantastic film, for this reason (See my review). It seemed a little too much like porn for serial killers to me.
With all of this being said, I will always be a fan of horror films and enjoy a good slasher, especially when it's done well. I think Warren Badenski's new short film Simon fits that bill.
Simon is presented by Pick and Mix Films from the UK and stars Chris Bell as the titular Simon and Katie Alexander-Thom as Sarah, an intrepid rookie investigative reporter who believes a serial killer is living in her neighborhood. Both actors were great in the short, and at times during their performances I was reminded of scenes from Jimmy McGovern's great Granada TV series, Cracker. Kudos should also go to Badenski for his writing in those scenes!
I did have a bit of cognitive dissonance with some of the plot points in Simon and wasn't always sure if I was watching genre tropes or clichés, at times. I'm leaning toward tropes, however, as I was always right where Badenski wanted me to be emotionally. It is a credit to his pacing and visual storytelling style that the tension in Simon is always tightly wound. Even Badenski's NSFW choices (nudity and graphic violence) seemed to serve the vulnerability of the characters, as opposed to being merely titillating.
Simon was produced by Pick and Mix Films, an independent studio from London that was founded by actor Chris Bell. I'm a big fan of the emerging indie short film market, especially for horror directors. I think it's a great way to showcase the talents of young filmmakers and actors. Support their work by visiting www.pickandmixfilms.co.uk/!
And, make sure to watch Warren Badenski's Simon!
Running time: 25 min: 17 sec