New York based hard working independent filmmaker Jeremiah Kipp is a promising talent in genre cinema and his upcoming feature debut ‘The Sadist’ due out later this year is generating much internet buzz. It is a slasher starring living horror legend Tom Savini. The SFX maestro plays a deeply disturbed veteran of the Persian Gulf wars who hunts down and slaughters innocent campers and hunters in the woods. You can view the trailer at the end of this article. It has been a long road for Kipp to get this far. Since 2000 he has served as first assistant director on twenty seven indie offerings in both short films and full length features including the well-received horror comedy hit ‘I Sell the Dead’ in 2008. He has also made a string of shorts of his own as principal director that got him the job to helm ‘The Sadist’ and these three works really showcase Jeremiah Kipp’s progression in his filmmaking skills.
‘Drool’ is an experimental piece that clocks in at around about 4-minutes shot entirely in black and white featuring two naked actors male and female with no dialogue and no audio other than the sound of the atmospheric out worldly surreal non-diegetic soundtrack. It opens with a mist clearing to reveal the man on the floor of a confined space crawling around covered in his own “drool”. This is intercut with the woman at first clothed in a black dress sitting in a rocking chair drooling on herself and smearing her saliva all over her face, dress and the exposed parts of her body. After a black screen we see she has got up and she walks over to the man who is face down on the ground and she begins to “drool” all over his back, rubbing it into his skin mixing it with his own salvia and caresses him. The man then begins to touch her as they both crawl around together and she gradually takes off her dress overhead. The man now fully caresses the woman as he drools all over her. During another black screen, the musical score abruptly changes to something harmonious and the final shots show us after the man gets up and walks away the woman alone on the floor calm and at peace.
This is extremely well filmed relying mostly on close-up shots and has energetic editing. It is left up to you to interpret it for yourself what ‘Drool’ is saying metaphorically. I see it as the two black screens serve as transitions between three stages. The first is between the aloneness and yearning for sexual fulfilment and the coming together of two people who relieve their sexual frustrations and the second is the transitional period between this and the longing fulfilled hence the man getting up to leave after his needs are met and the look of satisfaction on the woman’s face. This is also emphasized upon by the blissful change in the music. The “drool” symbolizes bodily fluids as a whole. They are covered in their own salvia when they are alone (pleasuring themselves with their own bodies - masturbation) and each other’s when they are together (exchanging bodily fluids during the act of lovemaking). This is just how I am interpreting it you can make up your own mind by seeing ‘Drool’ for yourself here.
Again, shot entirely in black and white but in a widescreen format with minimal dialogue Kipp’s 2009 short ‘Contact’ has a running time of 10-minutes (not including the end credits) and sees him working with a proper narrative structure. It opens with a solemn looking elderly couple setting the table for a meal with three sets of plates and cutlery. When they look at each other, their facial expressions tell us they are anxious and are anticipating something. The camera has heavy focus on the third dinner set on the table with the vacant chair telling us they are waiting for someone with much anticipation. When they are sat down the woman touches her partner’s arm to comfort him. When the couple hears someone knocking on their front door the woman gets up to answer it and then the last shot of the scene is of the man looking on in concern with the camera slowly shifting away from him panning right then down to those plates and cutlery in that vacant spot on the table.
We then cut to a young couple in a rundown part of the city buying a mysterious drug from a dealer. It is obvious to us from the woman’s neat and wholesome appearance and her initial reactions that she does not belong to this lifestyle in this dangerous environment when entering a drug den in the back alleys surrounded by stoned junkies. Her attitude soon changes however when she snatches the mystery narcotic with much glee from the hand of the campy and eccentric looking drug dealer. This scene provides some of the very little dialogue. The dealer advises them to take it together implying that this is a trippy induced drug and requires more than a single person to take it, as it is an experience to share - to go on a trip together. This turns out to be a very bad trip. One camera shot preceding the introduction of the drug dealer and the other the closing shot of the scene are of the table in front of him filled with bottles of various substances that tells us that he is the pharmacist of his product. The lovers return to their apartment and naked they inhale the drug together leading to some trippy and disturbing metaphorical imagery with Jeremiah Kipp employing a claustrophobic experience.
I will leave the rest for you to see for yourself as so not to spoil this imagery including the body-horroresque special makeup effects that it entails and to see what connection these events have to the opening scene. This is an immensely effective cautionary little tale of the anxieties and woes of drug abuse that is moodily poetic in getting its message across with just as much emotional power as any feature length movie of the same ilk. It cuts away the fat of any possible over sentimental layers we might be subjected to in a feature getting right down to the meat and bones of the matter telling the story very well with just the essentials that is required. As beautiful as it is grim it is technically strong all round with stunning cinematography, efficient editing and a dread enhanced soundtrack. The performances are solid too especially from the young female lead Zoe Daelman Chalanda. Watch ‘Contact’ here.
Kipp’s last short before he began work on ‘The Sadist’ and my personal favourite of the three is a 6-minutes long piece this time in full colour but with no dialogue and no diegetic audio detailing the moments of a young woman’s attempted suicide and stars independent horror genre fav Deneen Melody.
We see in flashbacks her memories of key moments in her life intercut with the present day event of her laying in a bathtub as she reminisces. We see at first the happy times she spent with her young daughter and when her husband proposed to her. There is a moment when she is playing with her little girl in a playground when we see a mid-close-up shot of her face full of sadness and then a close-up of her daughter looking on at her that it then cuts back to her in the bathtub and she suddenly sits up. She reaches over to pick up a large butcher knife she has placed on a towel on the side of the tub and after slicing open her left forearm and she has laid back down to die we start to see the heart-breaking sadness that has led to her decision to take her own life as she bleeds out. We see her walking in on her true love cheating on her with her best friend, her own infidelity with another man and the love and affection between her and her daughter when she was a baby coupled with the more recent events of her daughter leaving in a car with her now estranged husband. It is because though of the warmth felt by the love between her and her daughter that she suddenly changes her mind and reaches for a towel wrapping it around her self-inflicted wound. The two closing shots are extreme close-ups of her looking into the camera and then of her hand holding her then baby daughter’s as she holds her in her arms. This symbolizes that she will live on.
‘Crestfallen’ is hauntingly poignant stuff and is strikingly beautiful in how it conveys its emotion. The cinematography is lush and the handling of the imagery of the woman’s memories both light and dark makes for very moving and powerful viewing and the darkly lit setting of the bathroom adds to the subject matter’s somber tone. Melody captures with supreme conviction the contradictive balance of her character’s weakness in giving in to her bad memories and the strength to go on empowered by her good memories and we feel a strong connection with her during this experience of the lowest point of the human condition. All this is supplemented by a chilling musical score by Harry Manfredini of ‘Friday the 13th’ fame that hits all the right notes in specific scenes. You can watch 'Crestfallen' here.
*** out of **** each
Jeremiah Kipp is obviously a very talented filmmaker with a sharp eye for visuals and for telling a good story and is a name to watch out for in genre circles. It is very pleasing to know that all his hard work has started to pay off and he now has a chance to prove himself in the field of feature filmmaking with the thoroughly entertaining looking ‘The Sadist’. Watch out for it this year...
Dave J. Wilson
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