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FIOFF ’15 Submissions To Die For: Chelsey Burdon & Mark Vessey’s “SHE”

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Welcome to SUBMISSIONS TO DIE FOR, the latest column focusing on highlights among the FANGORIA International Online Film Festival Submissions. While being featured on this column does not guarantee selection in the FANGORIA International Online Film Festival, SUBMISSIONS TO DIE FOR features some scare fare worth keeping an eye on…

One of the reasons why Chelsey Burdon & Mark Vessey’s SHE earns a spotlight in this week’s column is the unique way the director’s balance the use of subtlety and the lack thereof. On one hand, SHE is almost dialogue free, and almost anything we learn about the relationship at hand is through silent static shots and the physicality of the actors on display. On the other hand, one of the first shots of SHE is an explicit shot of a certain male appendage, atmospherically setting the stage for a third act that is firmly in the “lack thereof” camp.

For the narrative, SHE is rather simplistic in set-up and execution: a rocky relationship between a sexually domineering man and a psychologically scarred woman comes to its breaking point at their anniversary dinner. But in telling the tale of SHE, Burdon and Vessey (who also wrote the 15-minute short) also are incredibly deliberate in their narrative choices with almost every scene and shot paying off in a cue later in the film. And when SHE finally decides to enter explicitly horrific territory, it does so with gruesome gusto, operating in the realm of unabashed extremity against all sense of good taste and logic.

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While some may write off SHE as extreme for extreme’s sake, the jaw-dropping finale makes for a wonderful tonal parallel to the quiet, boiling sequences that came beforehand. Fiona Dourif and Phillip James- playing “She” and “He”, respectively- do some fantastic work, establishing their relationship roles through the smallest facial expressions and posture. And Dourif’s transformation from vulnerable and harrowed to absolutely psychotic is a sight to see, especially once SHE shows its hand and gets bloody.

Burdon and Vessey also have an excellent crew behind them, each of whom help to make SHE resonate in such an unsettling manor. David Meadows’ cinematography keeps every silent moment visually engaging, building tension while never quite giving away what comes next. Furthermore, the prosthetics and special FX from Paul While will surely leave a grin (or shocked, open maw) on the faces of even the most seasoned gorehounds, especially considering that Burdon and Vessey make his work the star of the show in SHE’s final freaky moments.

To submit your film to the FANGORIA International Online Film Festival and potentially be featured as a FIOFF ’15 Submission to Die For, you can visit the fest’s official website HERE.

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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