Self Sabotage (Short Film Review)

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Self Sabotage, the new short film from Brialynn Massie, features a cathartic exploration of monsters and demons, both metaphorical and literal.

Stakes and tension are raised as the short begins in a bathtub, a large knife resting on the tub’s edge, and the contemplating and physical signs of past attempts/cutting.

A raw, vulnerable, fearless, strong performance is given by Massie.

She has wonderfully expressive, emotive eyes that convey pain, sorrow, and fear in very compelling ways.

The piece is stylishly shot and atmospheric, with an evocative musical score and in its lighting and use of shadows.

As the Mother, Jenn Nangle (Malvolia writer and actress) is effective in both lighter and grim scenes.

The dark Monster (Ashley Fain) with the sick toothed grin can represent many things–internalized self doubt, self criticism/external criticism, the fear of harming one’s self or others. The “monster” we don’t want to become. It also embodies the internal haunting struggle that self-harm and/or suicidal ideation represents with so many individuals.

Even the support of a loving, caring mother and a mewling, adorable kitten cannot ward off the appearance of the Monster.

Exploring the deeply personal through psychological horror can be especially resonant, for both filmmakers and for audiences, themselves. I feel that horror is the ultimate form of drama–dealing literally with life and death and our most primal fears.  Intimate psychological drama that is horrific, especially as it relates to struggles with reality and mental states, is rich territory for exploration in the genre.

Massie shows she is adept as both an actress and a filmmaker and has skillfully juggled multiple duties (as director, writer, editor, and lead) in what is clearly a project infused with a great deal of passion.

I’m definitely looking forward to her next directorial effort–Vengeance Girl.

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–Cory Graham 2019