Wednesday, October 19, 2011

[DVD] Mail Order (2011)

What goes around, comes around, and this full circle may take weeks, months or even years before you realize its significance when you start to take stock. Mail Order is a short film written and directed by Eric Shapiro, based upon the short story by Jack Ketchum about a man with an obsession with snuff films, and how this detrimental addiction will eventually take a toll on himself if only because of something that he had done a few months back during a drug induced sexual escapade with a now ex-girlfriend, whom he thought he had seen in his latest mail ordered video, and tried to track her down since what he had seen, brought back certain memories.

As with most short films, the narrative has enough gaps for you to fill in the blanks and links, with the story being told in quite the non-linear fashion, jumping backwards and flashing forwards, with quick cut editing that was designed to disorientate, to induce a similar feel that the characters experience, especially in their induced high, or deep grogginess. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, especially true when the protagonist Howard (Lee Schall) started to try and enact his favourite scene with his then girlfriend Greta (Cerris Morgan-Moyer), which led to a breakup, but not before causing some deep set resentment to provide the crescendo of a finale in the closing minutes of the film.

It's easy to lapse and focus onto the sexier elements of the film especially since there are many opportunities to dabble with blood, sex and gore given Howard's penchant for snuff videos, but Shapiro made it clear that this wasn't and shouldn't be the crux or appeal of Mail Order. Sure we get to see anonymous people in Pig Head masks waving their sharp blades around and proceeding to cut up their victim, but most of the violence is implied, with the editing ensuring you get the picture, but never the explicit view one comes to expect to see, no thanks to the multitude of torture porn films in mainstream cinema that shoves everything in your face and down your throats. Here, subtlety is key, and is king, to allow your imagination to run wild.

Rather, the focus here is on the characters, especially with Howard, where time is spent dwelling on certain intricacies such as his averseness to modern day technology, in not owning a computer, a cell phone and the likes, and lo and behold, he's a stock trader, which I speculate in today's context isn't too successful given the way markets move in today's world, but with Howard not really worrying given the inheritance his father left behind. Shapiro's script allows for such backstories to be linked into the film, through dialogue if you pay attention, which brings a lot more substance to the table despite being a short, without the feeling of having everything crammed to fit into the expected time constraint.

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