Excuse the pun, but a short like Dog Food comes from an impressive pedigree. Starring Amanda Seyfried, already staff picked by Vimeo, and having screened at a slew of big name film festivals (including SXSW), this isn’t exactly a low profile short.
But, all those lofty accolades come with a price—high expectations. Fortunately Dog Food delivers. Writer and director Brian Crano has crafted a film that is suspenseful, engaging, and perhaps most important of all, surprising. This is a short that you might think you have all figured out, but really, it’s smarter than you (well, at the very least, smarter than me). By playing with expectations while also courting familiar narrative ground (including a very famous episode of South Park), Dog Food is quite the cinematic ride. It’s also a bit hard to classify—a not quite-horror horror film that is equal parts thriller and revenge drama. Additionally, it’s even an examination of pet obsession and vegetarianism. My oh my…humane slaughter seems to be all the rage on Short of the Week as of late.
As to be expected, the film’s technical qualifications are equally impressive as its narrative prowess. Shot on a RED Epic with Super Baltar prime lenses, the footage has a unique vintage, low-saturated look. The performances are also strong. True to form, Seyfried—who appeared in Crano’s previous feature film (A Bag of Hammers)—is great. But, Corey Michael Smith (who currently stars as Edward Nygma on Fox’s Gotham) steals the show as the main protagonist—an ostensibly sweet-natured butcher with doggie attachment issues. The result is a trio of characters colored in various shades of grey. This is grade-A entertainment—a short that doesn’t quite feel its 18 minute runtime. In the ADD-riddled world of internet video, that’s a very good thing.Although this film had quite the festival run, it’s bound to find a much larger audience of suspense lovers online. Bon Appétit, short film fans.