She (2014)

She posterAs in most genres, the horror genre can be roughly divided into those filmmakers who just want to make a kickass horror film and those who want to make a horror film that’s both kickass and one which has a message, whether it be a social or political commentary/metaphor. When a filmmaker makes a horror film it could be years from when they first sat down to write it until it was completed and ready for distribution. Imagine if I just made and was ready to distribute a film about Joey Buttafuoco. If you just thought to yourselves, “Who the fuck is that?” then you get my point. But sometimes indie filmmakers hit gold. Take Chelsey Burdon and Mark Vessey, the duo writers and directors of the short film SHE. At it’s core, SHE is the story of domestic violence … how much more current can you get??

SHE is the kind of short film, it has a tight fifteen minute run time, that takes a gamble. There are only two cast members, one set location, one basic premise the film is hinged on (the aforementioned domestic violence), and there’s no dialogue or any words spoken until about the 11:20 mark. Sure SHE is financially sound from a production stand point but the filmmakers here are putting all their eggs into one basket with the casting. These two actors better be at the top of their game and grab the audience from the first frame. Happily I can write that the two leads are indeed at the top of their game in their respective roles here. Simply known as She (Fiona Dourif) and He (Phillip James), the viewer quickly gets to know more about this married couple than they probably want to know. He is a controlling sadist who uses sex as a weapon to hurt his wife. It doesn’t matter the time of day, what She is doing, or if She is in the mood or not, when He wants She He will take her whenever he wants and wherever they are. James does a fantastic job in his role as the abuser. He’s not an over-the-top abuser who is constantly yelling at She and putting her down. James’ He is a realistic abuser who doesn’t raiser a hand to his wife but expects her to obey everything He says and does. This is the kind of abuse that’s been going on for a long time and He does a fantastic job hitting all the right notes with his character.

Hope He enjoys that dinner!!

Hope He enjoys that dinner!!

SHE mainly focuses on actress Dourif, who is no stranger to the horror genre. Dourif played Casey in HBO’s TRUE BLOOD, was in CURSE OF CHUCKY, and can be seen in the upcoming FEAR CLINIC. But Dourif’s portrayal in SHE is a stand out performance. Every move she makes, every facial expression and body movement beautifully captures a woman who is in a living hell — a woman who has been psychologically beaten down. Her abuse is nothing new. Judging by her character She has been suffering at the hands of He for quite some time. Dourif expertly embodies what writers Burdon and Vessey were truing to capture in the character of She. She is alone and we in fact never see her leave the house. The viewer can gather through Dourif’s performance that He cut her off from her friends and family and made her completely dependent on him. But if you think this is the standard short film about a woman reaching the end of her rope as we watch her slowly go insane, you couldn’t be more wrong.

This is the face of an empowered woman!!

This is the face of an empowered woman!!

During one of the many rapes she goes through at the hands of He, something changes inside She. She’s not disconnecting herself from the abuse nor is She fighting against her husband. A sense of peace and resolution seems to come across her face during the rape. She is not at all a weak character but becomes empowered by confronting the abuse and by not mentally/psychologically escaping from it. The final act of SHE will be hard for some viewers to watch as She finally confronts her abuser. I’m not going to give anything away here, but wow!! Writer-directors Burdon and Vessey didn’t hold back at all and I commend them for this. A timid ending would have completely ruined the transformation of empowerment She went through. Great job!!

SHE is a short horror film with a purpose. Just the very use of “He” and “She” instead of actual names universalizes these characters. This kind of abuse happens everywhere and unfortunately all the time. As mentioned above, SHE couldn’t be more relevant today. Domestic abuse is all over social media and news outlets. These real life abusers better hope their girlfriends and wives don’t watch SHE, especially the last act. I’m not here to condone nor condemn street justice, but there would be a lot of very unhappy douchebag football players if their significant others get their hands on SHE!!

She1Everything about this short is praiseworthy, from the fantastic acting to the writing, editing, and directing. This is an important short film and it’s the perfect story for a short feature. Anything more than fifteen minutes would’ve made SHE feel drawn out and padded. SHE is a perfect little film as it is and I’m highly recommending it. You can watch the short in it’s entirety below!!

My Summary:

Directors: Chelsey Burdon & Mark Vessey (& writers & producers)

Plot: 5 out of 5 stars

Gore: 7 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

filmmakers Mark Vessey and Chelsey Burdon

filmmakers Mark Vessey and Chelsey Burdon

3 Responses to “She (2014)”
  1. Ringo Smith says:

    This sounds very interesting. Is there a link to where this short can be seen? Thanks.


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