Short of the Week

8 Butterflies

Twisted, disturbed, and interpretable in a hundred ways, all of them troubling. This is horror that is uncategorizable.

I am not frightened by much, on film anyway. I love horror; I just don’t tremble while watching it.  There is plenty in the real world that could raise a goose bump or two (on those less brave than yours truly), but real-world frights have little to do monsters and generally less to do with to logic, both stables of cinematic horror, even if the logic is a bit skewed. The unknown is what make us pale and wide-eyed. As soon as something is identified, qualified, defined, its magic is depleted. It can be depressing, morbid, and life-crushing, but not frightening. Sense and horror do not go together.

Which brings me to 8 Butterflies.  Sense is nowhere to be found, and coherence is just out of reach. There is a story, more or less, but it is the story of a dream. Locations are flexible, time is fluid, and identities lack an anchor.  Don’t let any of that bother you; it is exactly as it should be.  There is a man in pain, searching where he shouldn’t.  There is a woman, who thinks she can handle the situation, and digs up answers to questions she shouldn’t have asked.  And there is a transformation.

Director Nick Narciso has created a tone poem: twisted, disturbed, and interpretable in a hundred ways, all of them troubling. 8 Butterflies may not make sense, but that doesn’t imply it is meaningless, or that it meanders. It has a course, through dim hallways, round a chapel, and past a goat, with pain as our guide.  Does it all sound pretentious?  It isn’t, though perhaps I am in my attempt to describe it.  You can’t discuss this film with the normal phrases you would use to express why you like apples.  Sometimes words don’t do the trick, which is why we have film after all.

If your taste in horror is limited to slashers and torture porn on one side of the pendulum, or to clever character-driven gothic tales on the other, 8 Butterflies will leave you baffled.  If you lean more toward Susperia, then this is your kind of creepy.

Matthew is the director of the Dragon*Con Independent Film Festival, which annually brings filmmakers, features, and the best in short film to Atlanta. He writes a monthly film column for the short fiction review magazine, The Fix and maintains a film criticism website,
  • lili

    it has all the right elements of a horror film set in place, montage, black and white footage, ambiguous lines, and so on, the classic recipe of a horror, right? maybe that’s why it didn’t trigger any goose bump in me. another horror made by the book.

  • BobbiJonze

    AMAZING!!!!!!!!! This film deserves ATTENTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • jlac53

    @lili – your comment makes no sense, or maybe i just dont understand it. if you’re putting the film down because you feel ‘it was made by the book’, i disagree. this film is the perfect example of ‘the unique’. the director has a vision and knows how to put it together, on screen, in his own way and techniques. i thought it was fabulous and it sure as hell gave me the goosebumps.

  • balls

    well that ending was laughably stupid

  • Christian

    Amazingly bad short, boring and pointless, and the reviewer has the nerve to compare this to Suspiria, when he can’t even spell that film right, I doubt he’s even watched it.

  • bob the moo

    David Lynch makes it look easy, this film proves it isn’t….