In the 1960s, Clive, a wealthy spiritualist, contends with a dark force plaguing his family, when his wife suddenly and inexplicably falls into a coma. He searches for answers in an ancient book that details the long-forgotten spirit painting ritual that purportedly summons images of the dead. Using the book as his guide, Clive attempts to invoke the entity that is oppressing his wife, with disastrous consequences.
The Painted is something of a black sheep when set side by side with modern short films. While other films intend to either scare their audience or impart some wisdom through themes and inferred meanings, The Painted instead chooses to bring a dash of drama along with a fresh bit of flair.
The ominous orchestral score plays boldly, foreshadowing the imminent danger our ruggedly handsome protagonist has chosen to bravely endure. His wife, strewn in numinous pose while lying comatose on her bed, dressed in pure angelic white. The books, woodblock printed and ancient, containing powerful, forbidden knowledge. The paint, placed in ritualistic fashion yet with devout determination and unshakable certainty. The house, exuding an air of old money and nepotism…Director Sasha Sibley seems to have a penchant for the flamboyant and I’m honestly loving it.
The Painted is an audio-visual feast. The editing is clean, the special effects rather expensive-looking, the score ever-present and powerful, and the visuals really pleasing. The details and closeups in the painting itself are Hollywood level good and are honestly pretty mind-blowing. I devoured every second of this maniacal offering and was not nearly sated. I could not look away.
If anything, it can be a little campy and I can see how some might find it dated. Not I. what I saw was a vision completed. Every artist conceptualises their piece prior to its creation. The final product is more often than not inferior to that original concept. The Painted did not suffer that fate. It is imagination given form and I’m sat here awestruck. This is a great short film and I’m sure its head will eventually be heavy with laurels. The Painted has just screened at Sitges and will be screening at NFFTY next weekend. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. Poster and trailer below.
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