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When Jimmy is left alone in his house, he finds an old mask and decides to prank his parents when they come home by scaring them. Jimmy hides in his parents' bedroom closet and waits, but unfortunately for him and his family, things turn out to be a little more horrifying than a simple prank.
Hmm, a nine-minute short that managed to get into the 40 short films that were shown at this year's Fantastic Fest in Texas? Could be fun. Winning the "Sick Bastard" Special Audience Award for Most Disturbing Film at 2010 HP Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Oregon? Could definitely be fun. Was it?
First off, the film cost around £7,000 to make (or $11,000 US), and man does it look slick. This certainly doesn't look like your typical indie flick. I especially liked the shots of Jimmy hiding in his parents' closet: the light coming through the slits in the door while Jimmy watched and waited for his parents to open the closet. Things also get rather creepy when Jimmy sees his parents doing a certain something that will require years of therapy, and Jimmy's eyes effectively communicate that. Not only that, the special effects for the real 'surprise' are quite good and equally disturbing.
With all that said, the film has more than a few unanswered questions about it: What exactly is this mask, and what's in doing in the closet? Why are Jimmy's parents' coats in white suit bags, and their shoes in zip-up containers? Are they researchers of sorts? What were these 'flashbacks' that Jimmy saw while wearing the mask? Are they some sort of Lovecraftian/Cthulu thing? What the hell happened to Jimmy!? The film feels like it was trying to cram a lot into just nine minutes, leaving out a fully-developed story.
Also, the 'surprise' involves a certain something happening to Jimmy's pregnant mom, which comes off as more or less a gross-out that is meant to push a few buttons instead of being practical or related to the (nonexistent) story. I'm trying not to spoil it, but needless to say, it's not fun, and if whatever it was wanted to 'punish' Jimmy's mom, was it really necessary to do it that way? Finally, while the score for the short was fitting, the music for the end credits sounded like the composer was channeling Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson, and doing an ear-bleeding job of it. Turn down the distortion, dammit!
So, TO MY MOTHER AND FATHER certainly looks better than the normal budget affair (even though it's a short), and features some great creature and makeup effects. However, the film lacks a complete story, and despite the nice effects, swerves into gore that's meant to shock rather than entertain pretty quickly. Writer/director Can Evrenol has a good grasp on shooting, and I look forward to seeing more of his stuff, but work on your storytelling, bud.
Video: It's a screener.
Audio: It's a screener.
Again, it's a screener. Not even a replica of that mask for fun was included.
TO MY MOTHER AND FATHER was a quick dark ditty that showcased some great-looking camera work and effects, but ultimately came up short on the story front. It's another case of style over substance, but I'm open to seeing what Evrenol can do next.