Machine Baby has most recently screened at Nightmares Film Festival in Columbus, Ohio. This award-winning short film was written and directed by Sean Richard Budde.
The film’s quick, flashing intro is a veritable assault on the senses. I literally had to close my eyes for a couple of seconds due to the intensity of the flashes, which I suppose is part of the message that director Sean Richard Budde is trying to purvey.
After its intense introduction, the film switches locations to the house of the pageant queen from the intro, shrouded by the onset of the night—and a paparazzo doing what paparazzi do best; skulking and sneaking about. Suddenly hearing sounds implying something immensely pleasurable; or perhaps painful; or both, our paparazzo slinks over to a barely open window to investigate, but is quickly stopped by the pageant manager. Unperturbed, he returns the following day, eager to suss out the source of the sounds – and unfortunately, he succeeds.
As for the technical aspects of the film, I found the camera work and editing to be on point. The runtime is a little over ten minutes, so it’s not like I have an awful lot to comment on. The special effects, whilst simple, worked very well. Obvious budget limitations were cleverly disguised with smart camera angles and cutaways. My only real gripe would be “The Manager,” portrayed by Christian Gray. It wasn’t so much that I disliked the acting, but more that I disliked the character. He was too whimsical, almost comical—I’d have preferred a darker or downright evil interpretation.
As with most well shot short films, Machine Baby is a lot to digest. The stand out themes (to me) were America and her insatiable thirst for oil, obsession over celebrities, and wanton violence. Budde makes us question how and why society worships their blind idols and leaves allusions to America’s success, status and adoration all being born from oil. The ending I found to have two possible meanings: the first a warning about America itself – that she may seem beautiful on the outside but that her true purpose is a lot more diabolical; the other meaning perhaps a call to Americans not to trust fake, created idols – manufactured standards of beauty distracting you from what really goes on in the shadows, and the possible repercussions thereof.
The film is now publicly available for viewing on Bloody Disgusting’s World of Death series, so give the short a watch yourself and let me know what you think about the film. Do you agree with me, or have I missed the mark completely? Leave your replies in the comments below and as always, thanks for reading.
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