Slapface (2017)

Director and writer Jeremiah Kipp creates a very stark and somewhat creepy tale of loss, grief, and child abuse with “Slapface,” a short that is destined to grab a lot of people’s attention. At only eight minutes, “Slapface” tells the story of a young boy still coming to terms with the loss of his mother. One day he ventures out deep in to the woods and calls to something in the shadows, goading it to come out of hiding and before long is greeted by a vicious, ugly ogre in tattered clothing and long hair that zealously grasps him to the point of making him lose consciousness.

When he’s discovered in his front yard, we learn about his home life, which involves a father incapable of dealing with his son’s issues, a lot of medication that may or may not be helping, and apparent child abuse. According to interviews Kipp was inspired greatly by “Frankenstein” with his newest short film, and the influences by Mary Shelly are all over the eight minute run time here. Our young protagonist has somewhat discovered a horrific force of nature that may or may not be friendly, and we watch as he literally plays with fire as the monster grows fonder of him. A lot of the elements involving the narrative are completely ambiguous attempting to evoke conversation among the audience.

Is this young boy in need of medication? Is this medication something that is helping him confront his emotions? Or is it keeping a potential sociopath with murderous ideas at bay? What are his intentions toward the monster? And most of all, where did this monster come from? “Slapface” is simultaneously disturbing and unnerving, relying a lot on open spaces, and silence to create tension, and ends on a note that will keep audiences interpreting it for a while. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have minded five more minutes added for the sake of context, or slower pacing, but ultimately, “Slapface” is a strong horror short from Jeremiah Kipp whose storytelling skills are stellar.

Look for it when it shows up at festivals, soon.