There has been a lot of hand-wringing in indie circles over the lack of action at the Toronto International Film Festival this week. Toronto is North America’s biggest festival for sealing distribution deals, and the weak market has people flashing back to 2010′s disastrous climate for indie features. One of success stories that emerged Wednesday night however is that innovative horror director Adam Wingard has been able to secure a deal with Lionsgate for wide-release of his newest feature You’re Next.
The announcement seems likely to vault the Alabama-based cult filmmaker to a much greater profile among mainstream horror fans. A prolific director of features and shorts, it was his 2007 micro-budget feature Pop Skull, reportedly made with a total budget of $2,000, which cemented his reputation as a name to watch amongst the horror film enthusiasts, playing to many enthusiastic audiences on the genre festival circuit.
What we have for you today is a set of 3 lo-budget shorts that Wingard debuted online in late 2009. Dubbed the “Forgot My Meds” trilogy, the series is comprised of the films Laura Panic, Cerebella, and Her Name is Laura Panic.
I’m not an expert on Wingard’s oeuvre, but in reading other’s commentary the films seem to be a good introduction his style: visually inventive, a tad bit surreal, and psychologically penetrating.
These are going to be polarizing films for many of you, as they are a bit slow, and plot-wise the payoffs are slight. To me they represent terrific innovation in tone and style on a low-budget however, brave attempts by a filmmaker to use the short-form to try and work out a unique artistic temperament. Meditative monologues from the POV of young, unstable women, each of the films interestingly toys with the intersection of sexuality, illness and violence. Hannah Hughes plays Laura Panic, the main character from the bookending films. In the first she is smitten stalker, following her crush and imagining a future life with this man she does not know. In the third film she does in fact have a boyfriend, only she thinks he’s an alien. The middle film, Cerebella, is my favorite however and features an adorably twee Amanda Crawford as an unbalanced insominiac holed up in a motel room.
The film’s images are often quite interesting, Wingard is often compared to David Lynch in that respect, but it is the writing which I enjoy the most, as these vulnerable women’s communicated thought processes flit between endearing and dangerous. The women are sexualized as objects of desire, but simultaneously you’re creeped out. Click on the images below to watch, and see what you think!