Starring Simon Meacock, Neil Newbon, Peter Marinker
Directed by Ben Steiner
Frank is a spirit medium. Kept in a dingy London flat and managed in a peculiar business venture by his brother, he gives people the opportunity to converse with their dead loved ones via a particularly unique method… you see, they manifest in his stomach.
With a tube placed in his mouth and the customer provided a stethoscope to hold against the bulbous, pulsating growth on his midriff (which arises when an otherworldly visitor is present), Frank acts a conduit between the living and the dead.
Unfortunately, the repetitive act forces him to live in a constant state of pain, almost entirely bed-ridden and coughing up blood – and he’s had enough of it. Reluctantly, Frank’s brother agrees to his retirement, but a recent customer – an aging gangster in search of the whereabouts of a particular package – isn’t ready to cease his communications until he has what he wants.
A mixture of genres packed into 15 minutes, The Stomach is a triumphant mash of cockney gangster-ism, ghost story and Cronenberg-esque body horror. The cast play their parts perfectly, and Steiner does well in keeping a consistent thread of mystery throughout the whole thing as he tosses and turns the audience’s hopes for the well-being of poor, tortured Frank. Characters are very well drawn, and the dialogue is incredibly naturalistic. While we don’t get to hear the voices of the dead, it’s written so well that the ‘other side’ of the conversation comes right through regardless.
Crisp lensing and excellent lighting paint an atmosphere that, while grim, feels like it could be right on your doorstep, and a brilliant moment in the close that utilises tension, editing and soundtrack to really push you to the edge of your seat paints Steiner as a filmmaker that you should definitely be keeping an eye on.
Hugely original and utterly compelling, The Stomach is a chilling piece of work made with no modest amount of talent from all involved. See it as soon as you can.