Dysmorphia (Short, 2012)

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DysmorphiaStarring Gordon Holliday

Written and Directed by Andy Stewart

Not knowing what the term “dysmorphia” meant, I had no idea what to expect going into this 11-minute short film. A minimal amount of research would have revealed that dysmorphia, or body dysmorphia as we are dealing with in this film, is a psychological disorder in which an individual believes their health or appearance would be improved by, get this, the removal of one of their body parts.

And that is the basic snapshot we get in the film. Dysmorphia portrays exactly what happens after the disease has taken over and an individual decides to remove the part they find offensive. This can also be a good educational video, exhibiting why you don’t leave dysmorphiacs alone with a bag of sharp tools. Yeeoch!

If anyone doubts this disease exists, I encourage you to look no further than the February 20, 2007, episode of “The Jerry Springer Show,” that bastion of American culture. This particular episode was entitled “I’m Glad I Cut My Legs Off” and dealt with a person dealing with dysmorphia. Oh, and they actually managed to find a dysmorphic transvestite. Don’t even bother double-checking that. I couldn’t make it up.

Anyhow, Dysmorphia is a one-man show that joins the subject after he has decided to remove his right arm just below the elbow. We see him unpack one incredibly sharp implement after another out of his travel bag onto a table covered with plastic, and when he applies the tourniquet, any mystery as to what is about to happen is pretty much gone. Dysmorphia does an impressive job building the tension of the moment. You can’t just jump into a scene like this; you have to massage the audience into it to make the effect more powerful, and writer/director Andy Stewart does a nice job with it. The film’s star, Gordon Holliday, certainly brings the pain of the character to life.

One issue I did have with Dysmorphia was the frequent cutting away from the bloody action. Don’t get me wrong, Stewart does show us a lot of the red, red kroovy, but in a film like this the money shot is all you’ve got. There is really no plot or characters to develop. This is a snapshot, not a long story with a build-up. If you’re watching a film called Dysmorphia and a guy pulls out a tourniquet and a bunch of sharp metal objects and you hang in to see what happens, you’re watching for a reason. Show us all the goods! The F/X that were used in the film were impressive.

Dysmorphia is a cool short film with a couple of toe-curling moments and an ending that ties everything together nicely with a little twist. We don’t get to know the character or much of his story, and that doesn’t seem to matter, but perhaps a little familiarity may have made the cuts a little deeper for the viewer. If you’ve got 10 minutes to kill, this film isn’t a bad choice.

3 out of 5

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Scott Hallam

We all go a little mad sometimes...haven't you?