[Tribeca Festival] CALL ME CRAZY Review - A Showcase for Outstanding Genre Shorts
Justin Lockwood was blown away by some particularly compelling entries in the Call Me Crazy genre shorts program.
I look forward to the short film programs at the Tribeca Festival every year, they consistently include memorable work from up-and-coming filmmakers. This year the festival has blessed us with Call Me Crazy, a genre shorts program sponsored by Meta. The program was a strong collection of varied work, with two absolutely outstanding entries. It also included Girls Night In, a sly riff on the Bechdel Test. Be sure to read my interview with its star Skylar Benton here.
Unicorn, directed by Matt Porter, follows an unassuming young man (Charles Gould), who co-wrote the film, who has a date with a couple (Brianna Baker and Patrick Woodall). The couple is seeking the perfect non-threatening third for their sexcapades, i.e. a “unicorn”. The acting and comedic timing are pitch-perfect, and the film offers a smart commentary on modern-day dating and sex. The collision of humorous and horrifying elements is delightful, like the scene with a YouTube tutorial on demon summoning.
Bloody Knife Rating: 4
LET ME GO
Let Me Go (The Right Way), directed by Destry Allyn Spielberg and written by Owen King, is a trippy tale following a young man (Hopper Penn) faced with an age-old dilemma: is he going mad, or are they out to get him? It’s an engaging and twisty tale, aided by Penn’s compelling performance and strong work from Brian d’Arcy James as the suspicious therapist. The build-up is a little better than the film's finale, but the short bodes well for Spielberg’s future as a filmmaker.
Bloody Knife Rating: 3
Bumblebees, directed by Sebastian Sdaigui and written by Carol Garlick, is a “grrrl power” caper that brings to mind Death Proof (2007). The gang initiation trope is inverted with Billie (Isabella di Rienzo) tasked with taking out a nasty man (Beau Knapp) who is kidnapped and then released for this purpose. A Quiet Place (2018) scene-stealer Millicent Simmonds co-stars as a confident gang member who bets against Billie. It’s a definite case of style over substance, but Bumblebees is an entertaining slice of pulp. The film also stars Jackie Cruz.
Bloody Knife Rating: 2
SKIN & BONE
Reuniting director Eli Powers and star Amanda Seyfried after their collaboration on Holy Moses (2018), Skin & Bone centers on a drifter (Thomas Sadoski) who takes a farm job in exchange for lodging. His boss (Seyfried) seems kind, if intense, but the man begins to suspect she has a dark secret, especially after stumbling across a mysterious cemetery on the grounds. The film’s dreamlike quality and ambiguity around its supernatural possibilities reminded me of Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971). Skin & Bones is a miniature masterpiece: haunting, beautifully shot and absolutely absorbing. Sadoski and Seyfried both deliver top-notch performances, with the latter showing off her singing voice. I’d love to see this one expanded to a feature, and I suspect it would garner quite a few fans.
Bloody Knife Rating: 5
I wonder if Night Breakers, from Spain, stems from its unforgettable opening image: people draped in light bulbs making their way through a darkened tunnel. With impressive economy, its directors Guillem Lafoz and Gabriel Campoy Benito, establish a vivid post-apocalyptic world in which literal shadow monsters lurk in the darkness, and light is humankind’s only means of survival. If your batteries run out, you’re done for. A rag-tag group makes its way towards a safe haven, but in classic fashion, the selfishness and cruelty of some of their number prove more of a threat than anything else. In a mere 18 minutes, the filmmakers stage an entire epic fantasy horror film, aided by great lighting, editing, and visual FX. Chacha Huang manages a similarly impressive feat by giving a compelling lead performance with virtually no dialogue. Simply put, Night Breakers is stunning.
Bloody Knife Rating: 5
The Call Me Crazy genre shorts program premiered at the Tribeca Festival on June 11, 2022.