Contact (2009) / Crestfallen (2011) / Drool (2011)

I was contacted by a filmmaker named Jeremiah Kipp to review a set of short films, CRESTFALLEN (2011), DROOL (2011), and CONTACT (2009).  Kipp got a feature film directing job (on the upcoming Tom Savini led THE SADIST) from his shorts, so I was very interested to see what he had done with these films that landed him that one!


Description (from the filmmaker):
Drugs, nudity, gore, psychotronic violence…we went for it! 🙂

Special Features:
None (Online Screener)

Major Cast:
Zoë Daelman Chlanda as Koreen, Robb Leigh Davis as Westy, Katherine O’Sullivan as Mother, Tom Reid as Father, Danny Lopes as Johnny, Alan Rowe Kelly as Rowan

Directed by Jeremiah Kipp

Right from the opening of CONTACT, it is obvious that this isn’t your average low-budget horror short.  There’s no zombies, no chainsaw killer, no vampires; there is an old couple setting three places at the table and are obviously unsure if the third seat will be filled.  CONTACT is in black & white, which again makes it stand out from the average.  The choice of black & white gives the film immediate weight, and class; it feels like an art film more than a short horror.  That class is also elevated by the beautiful cinematography of Dominick Sivilli, whose talent is made obvious in CONTACT: the video is crisp, the use of focus is accomplished, and the angles and framing employed throughout the film keep the images fresh in the eye and keep the viewer’s attention.

Drugs are bad, mmkay…

It hit me quickly that Kipp is a filmmaker that has taken the ethos of “show don’t tell” to high levels.  Throughout CONTACT there is a total of about 3 lines of dialogue, but yet so much is said when no one is speaking.  Her re-arranging silverware at the table establishes the Mother’s need for control and perfection, the connection between Koreen and Westy is cemented through glances back and forth, and the sorrow at the end is sufficiently heavy though no one says a word.  I was very impressed with how much Kipp’s film has to say without actually saying most anything.

CONTACT is an odd little film.  It’s a love story, and a story about loss, and it’s all moved forward through the use of an unknown drug.  The drug was supposed to bring the main characters together – and it does quite literally at one point – but instead it has severed their connection permanently.  This is obviously a film that is not promoting drug use, this is no STILL SMOKIN’ in any way, shape, or form; however it is not heavy-handed in its condemnation.  The viewer sees what happens and then must form his or her own opinions.

Showing the effects without saying a thing.

On the technical side of things, CONTACT was very well made.  I have already talked about the beautiful imagery of the film.  The actors do a fine job of relaying emotion without speaking, and you can truly feel their love, fear, and loss.  The audio is great as well; the minimal dialogue is well recorded, but more important is the sound design.  There is a symbiosis between the foley and the score that is not often heard, especially on a lower budget film like CONTACT, and the original score is nice fit for the film.

Overall I really enjoyed CONTACT.  It was an impressive film that shows how much could be done with only a few words.  It has some scares, some gore, but truly it is more of a drug-induced drama than a true horror.  And like any good drama, it packs a strong emotional impact.

Overall 8.5 / 10


CONTACT is not for sale.

CONTACT full video:

Contact (2009)


Description (from the IMDb):
When Lo has her life come crashing down on top of her, she makes the impulsive decision to end her own life. Now with her health hanging in the balance, she questions her decision. With every drop of blood rippling in to a new memory, will the bad ones take her life, or will the good ones overpower them?

Special Features:
None (Online Screener)

Deneen Melody as Lo, Michael Partpilo as Jason, Nikki Watson as Tara, Austin Dossey as Jake, Taylor Metzger as Emma, Zoe Miller as Toddler Emma, Leander Miller as Baby Emma

Written by Russ Penning
Directed by Jeremiah Kipp

CRESTFALLEN is the story of the aptly named Lo, who has decided after being cheated on that she is going to end her life.  The plot goes into play as she sits in the bath and slits her wrists, and she does it the right way not the “I want some attention” way.  The problem for Lo is that as she sits and at first goes over the pain of her life that has brought her to this very penultimate decision, soon she starts to think of her daughter Emma, and realizes there is one more decision that must be made.

Decisions, decisions…

Again Kipp’s ability to show, not tell, shines brightly with CF.  There is not one word spoken in the film, yet the story is very clear.  The performances pulled from the actors by Kipp again show his strengths as a director; no one says a word but you understand the story, the pain, the regret, and all the other emotions surrounding the film.  The visuals are expanded upon by the music of Harry (I made the chk-chk-chk-ah-ah-ah soundtrack to FRIDAY THE 13TH) Manfredini; I do not know for sure if the soundtrack was original to the film – if it was, major kudos for getting Manfredini – but it was very fitting and added to the emotional impact nonetheless.

CF continues the “above average” feeling that I had with CONTACT.  The film has a very nice HD video look to it, and the cinematography of Dominic Sivilli again impresses.  This time, instead of black & white, CF takes an amber tone to most shots.  One of the bits I really liked with the cinematography of CF was the use of negative space: shots with lots of black filling the screen, accentuated by small areas of color.  This helped to establish the darkness, the loneliness of the story.  The composition of the shots are very pleasing and keep the viewer interested, though at times I felt that the it was almost a little too stylish in some spots.  CF never veered into MTV-all-style-no-substance territory, but some shots were a bit too much in comparison to the rest of the film.

An example of the use of negative space

Overall, I also enjoyed CF.  It did not have quite the visual impact that caught me on CONTACT, but it was again a great example of how strong a story can be without saying a word.  CF was an extremely well made short, and it showed the talents of all involved.  Truly my only issues with CF were that it is hard to have as much of an emotional impact that a story about suicide deserves in such a short time span, and the occasionally too-stylish visuals.  Otherwise, I really enjoyed the flick.

Overall 7.5 / 10

CF on the IMDB:

CF is not for sale.

CF full video:

Crestfallen (2011)


Description (from the filmmaker):
4-minute experimental film

Special Features:
None (Online Screener)

Made by the Mandragoras Collaboration:
Jeremiah Kipp, Salinoch, Scott W. Perry, Laura Lona, Brian Uhrich, Agata Domanska

Directed by Jeremiah Kipp

It’s kinda hard to figure out where to start with DROOL.  This is exactly what Kipp says it is: a 4-minute experimental film.  I guess I’ll start with what is going on… a naked man is in a bare room, covered in slime.  A soon-to-be naked woman is also in the bare room, also slimy.  The slime is, you guessed it, drool.  Much sliminess ensues.  I wish I could really explain this better, but that’s about the extent of it.  There may be an underlying idea or story or message, but I have to say I just didn’t get it.  Maybe it’s about the way love sticks us down to each other, or about the power of control, or maybe DROOL is just an exercise in trippy filmmaking, and there wasn’t a point to miss.

I realize I didn’t mention this earlier, but props to Kipp for getting people, both men and women, to be completely naked in his films.  More props for the fact that in three films that all have near if not full-frontal nudity, there is very little sexiness to be seen.  In many a low-budget film, the nakedness is used as a selling point – come watch my movie, it’s got boobs! – but Kipp uses it as just a piece of the story not an enticement to watch.

I’m drooling on you… I’m drooling on you!

As I watched DROOL I was immediately struck by the familiarity of the score.  I knew that music.  It was familiar, very familiar.  After a minute or so I realized, the score to the film was actually two un-credited Aphex Twin tracks from my favorite album to write to (I’m listening to it as I type this), Selected Ambient Works, Vol. 2.  To be specific, they were “SAWV2D2T4” (aka “Grey Stripe”) and “SAWV2D2T8” (aka “Lichen”).  It’s nice to hear one of my favorite musicians very theatrical album get put to good use with a film, even if the aforementioned musician probably has no idea that his music is used as such!  Since I’m sure no money was made on DROOL, this does not infringe on copyrights as I understand it, but I was surprised that the music was not credited in the end of the film.

DROOL is an interestingly shot film, though not Sivilli it has its own visual flair.  The film is basically black & white, tinged in a violet-sepia color scheme.  The control of the focus is again a strong piece of the visuals, as many shots are out of focus on purpose, and others use the focus to draw the viewer’s eye where Kipp wants it to be.

Overall, DROOL was interesting to watch and fun to listen to (as a fan of Aphex Twin), but did not have much to it I could sink my teeth into.  I wondered if I was missing something important, something meaningful, but then felt that if there was something meaningful DROOL was trying to tell me there was a failure to communicate.

Overall 6.5 / 10

DROOL is not on the IMDB.

DROOL is not for sale.

DROOL full video:

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