Let the joyous news be spread: “Other” by Daniel Delpurgatorio takes home the first annual “Impy,” the DailyNightmare prize for Midwest Snob Horror selected from short films screened at Three Corpse Circus. The 9″ award statue and CASH prize are on their way to the director in loving appreciation of this gem. Competition was stiff and we’ll laud other entries in coming days but for the moment, let all the glory rest on “Other.”
How do we love “Other?” Let us count the ways:
“Other” probes the under-expoited subgenre of body horror, with themes made particularly relevant by current health care debates in the US. A maverick doctor, Patrick, is struck with a terminal condition which provokes radical and risky procedures for self-medication with unintended consequences. “Other” weighs in a just 15 minutes long but we wouldn’t have wished it a moment longer. The piece recalls favorable memories of Cronenberg, especially The Fly and Aronofsky, especially Pi.
The mood of “Other” is controlled and consistent featuring an ambience that felt cramped, echoing the death sentence inflicted by the illness, and cluttered with the bizarre medical equipment that Patrick has desperately cobbled together. We at the Dailynightmare are not generally fans of voice-over but the technique works to great effect here, especially with the touch of irony that the doctor’s comments are recorded on cassette tape. The sound work is also impressive ranging from jarring to nearly uplifting as the true consequences of the experiment are understood. Though the Impy goes to the director — yes, yes, we’re mired in 20th C auteurist presuppositions over here, get over it — but “Other” features actual honest-to-goodness acting by David Steiger. The appearance of, y’know, real dramatic portrayal of character is rare enough in horror films, but it is double-plus wonderful to find in a single actor screenplay. Steiger as Patrick is by turns desperate, exhultant, smug, tortured and deranged, and all he has to react against is some cleverly blinking bits of set dressing and a glob of nauseously pulsing tumor. The prosthetics and make-up were, frankly revolting, but demonstrated an internal logic beyond the mere gross-out. As Patrick peers into a mirror in the closing moments, the wounds on his torso range from fresh and seeping to ones that have scarred over and have started to heal. Well-done… and yuck!
For its attention to detail, intriguing themes and, oh yeah, disgustingly thought-provoking premise, we at The DailyNightmare.com are extremely proud to award the very first Impy to “Other.”