SPLIT Movie Review
Written by Charlotte Stear
Released by Shining Example Films
Written and directed by Andy Stewart
2014, 17 minutes, Not Rated
Austin Hayden as Man
Shian Denovan as Woman
Split is the second short film from filmmaker Andy Stewart's body horror trilogy. His first movie Dysmorphia wowed audiences around the world for its stunning visuals, shocking story and tense atmosphere. So, the question is, can his next short live up to some pretty damn high expectations? You'd better believe it. If you were lucky enough to catch Dysmorphia and thought Stewart couldn't take things further, then you are in for a treat. Split is a toe curling, grotesque masterpiece that will pull at your heartstrings.
Split tells the story of a young man in the pit of depression after a breakup. Not wanting to leave the house or talk to his friends, his only concern is getting her back. As he tries to contact her without luck he begins to get sick, after a while he isn't just vomiting, he is physically changing.
First things first, do not watch this short just before your dinner, you shall regret it as this is not for the faint hearted. The effects are incredibly realistic; what has been created is truly disturbing and disgusting and the whole process is reminiscent of Jeff Goldblum's transformation in Cronenberg's The Fly. The effects are courtesy of Grant Mason who has previously worked on Trainspotting and Nightbreed. Split would not have been effective on the level it is without his work.
Underneath the puss and gross goo beats a tender heart through a story everyone will connect with. The way Stewart tells it is as heart wrenching as can be, we are slowly fed information about the couple and, as more unfolds, we become wrapped up in a claustrophobic, heart-breaking nightmare.
The minimalistic style really works for the flow, from the setting (shot pretty much in one apartment) to the dialogue, Stewart has kept it simple. The soundtrack is an unassuming piano playing in the background creating a haunting, sad, romantic atmosphere, it all words in the right balance, a simple set up for some grotesque imagery later on. But it never feels like it is too much, Stewart has found the right balance in which to disgust, but still intrigue his audience.
Carrying the whole film is Austin Hayden in the lead male role and he perfectly conveys a tortured soul, even deep into the effects his eyes tell more than words could. What makes this all the more impressive is that all of these emotions are captured in less than 20 minutes of film time. Stewart knows how to hook an audience in, how to tell a story and knows exactly when to leave us, giving us the best cinematic experience. His progress since the first instalment is astounding, not only is this promising for the final film in the body horror trilogy, INK, it's a very good indication that much bigger things shall be on the horizon for him, and well deserved too.