Foet (Short, 2001)
Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Starring Ellen Maraneck, Erika Johnson, J.D. Carter, Keith Abramson
Directed by Ian Fischer
Let’s say you’re a very opinionated person, outspoken about all your beliefs and values and willing to debate at length their merits with anyone who will listen. Then imagine something comes along that goes against every single one of your core values … but you have to have it.
Suich is the dilemma faced by the heroine at the heart of “Foet”, a short film from back in 2001 (though the most recent cut I've seen was completed in 2007) and has been picking up more and more steam at festivals across the country. I originally saw it at the Boston Underground Film Festival back in March and more recently it played at this summer’s Fantasia, with future dates set for the Dark Carnival Film Festival in Indiana. Amazing how a short could maintain such legs, but “Foet” is proof positive of how to tell an effective horror story in a small amount of time.
Based on a short story by F. Paul Wilson, “Foet” finds pro-lifer Denise (Maraneck), a frumpy woman who seems to envy almost any other women on the streets of New York City, as she becomes obsessed with a handbag she sees a woman carrying. It’s one of those things only a girl can understand, really, the way a bag can just speak to you and you know you have to have it no matter what.
The dilemma, however, occurs when Denise discovers what the bag is made of; the skin of aborted fetuses. Obviously this flies in the face of what she believes about herself and the world around her and when she finally accepts the truth of the bag’s material, she is disgusted and outraged. Just not for very long…
Fischer does a great job with the source material, a story I remember reading many moons ago but can’t recall any specifics from other than the plot. Even if you didn’t know it was an F. Paul Wilson story you could feel it throughout “Foet”; it’s got all the hallmarks of a good Wilson short. The filming style helps the feel, as well, as it looks very washed out, very 1980’s, and for good reason. While such fashion trends are more than likely on their way if they’re not already here, to give “Foet” an older look makes the message at its core that much more relevant.
The film’s heroine, Ellen Maraneck, explores the moral dilemma that makes up “Foet” expertly. She does a superb job going through her whole range of emotions in regards to this bag by facial expressions more than anything else. Sure, she raises her voice and protests, but through all her big words you can see that no matter what, she’s going to get this bag and wear it proudly.
All in all a great job by this first-time director who, given the amount of time since “Foet” was made, is hopefully working on something new while you read this. Hopefully “Foet” will find a home in some future shorts collection so you can all check it out, and we’ll be sure to let you know when we hear about future fests it will be featured at!
4 out of 5
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