Thursday, 29 January 2015


Recently I was contacted by director Jeremiah Kipp about reviewing some of his work. I'm a pretty staunch backer of the creative talents currently working in indie horror, so I was quick to let him know that I'd love check out his work.
The very generous Mr Kipp then proceeded to send me a selection of his work.
I was mighty impressed by the first I watched, the darkly moody The Minions (there's a review on the way soon), so I settled down with another of his films, Painkiller, optimistic that it would deliver the goods.
And my word, it did.


Dir: Jeremiah Kipp
Starring: Jerry Janda, Thomas Mendolia, Kelly Rae LeGault, Jill di Donato

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: This is a short so I'll try not to spoil too much, but read on at your own risk.

The short opens with a powerful besuited man (Janda) tracking down a skittish scientist (Mendolia) in a rundown building. As the two sit down to talk, we are shown the events that have led them to this moment.
In the not too distant past the scientist and his partner (LeGault) where working on a unique solution to the agony caused by terminal cancer. These colleagues (and lovers) felt that doping the dying until they gradually overdose was cruel — they aimed to create something that could return some dignity to the afflicted.
What they finally made was a creature, a slimy and repulsive looking invertebrate that would bond onto the spinal chord of a host and nullify the body's responses to pain stimuli, actively thriving on these and instead flooding the host's system with endorphins. This is a creature that could literally transform pain into pleasure.
Unfortunately the two used their entires research budget in creating the symbiote (the male scientist refuses to call it a parasite), leaving no funds to test it. This led to desperate measures — and after a brief discussion the pair decide that it should be inserted under the skin of the female scientist.
However, all has not worked as it should. How can a creature designed to survive on the pain generated by terminal cancer cope in a perfectly healthy woman? What toll has this taken on the couple, their relationship and their bodies? And what interest does the besuited man have in all this?

WHY IT WORKS: Painkiller boasts a fantastic premise, full of imagination. It is a unique and fascinating sci-fi/horror with real human heart and emotion. The story is undoubtedly very clever, combining science fiction, horror and character study in one neat package.
It examines the true nature of love and destruction — asking the viewer could you truly hurt the one you love? It is undoubtedly very shocking, going to some dark, dark places (I will now be chilled to the core every time I hear somebody say: ‘It isn’t enough’) and takes its intelligent base scenario to a truly warped conclusion.
I loved the way that this monstrous story sprang so much from good intentions: the characters of the scientists noble aspirations turning against them, until eventually the man’s own squeamish sense of decency condemns them to something far, far worse.
While the writing of the characters was very strong, special credit must go to Mendolia and LeGault for their fantastic performances in their parts. Legault will undoubtedly gather plenty of praise for her wonderful work in the role of the pain-addicted, disturbingly masochistic female lead. This is a challenging role and she runs with it. Every single one of the most disturbing scenes in this short focuses on her and she is a revelation. I will look out for her name in the future, she is very much an actress to watch.
Mendolia’s role is the less flashy, the less showy of the leads, and it could easily be overlooked. However, that is doing a grave injustice to the complexity of the part and the skill that Mendolia displays. He makes the scientist sympathetic, uncertain and desperate, yet still shows flashes of the hubris that led him along this path. He is a truly tragic character, a potentially great man brought low by his own fatal flaw. Mendolia GETS this and brings the character to life brilliantly. This is a talented actor.
I have read some complaints about writer Janda’s role as the mysterious individual who has tracked the pair down. Yes, he is eerily blank, but I think this is very much by design. I will discuss this in more detail below. You may be better off skipping past the following section until after you’ve watched the short, then coming back. SPOILERS********** He is a twisted individual, a devilish sadist who has become jaded due to the nature of his work. His very character is one who has lost the spark of life. This is why so many people also praise his work towards the end of the short when his true nature is revealed, now he has a new challenge he finds his verve once more. SPOILERS END**********
The cast are great, the story is great and guess what? Jeremiah Kipp's direction is great too. I particularly admired his restraint during the more intense scenes, using suggestion rather than gallons of garish gore to create a far more disturbing atmosphere. This isn’t to say that the film doesn’t deliver some intense scenes of torture and mutilation (it does) but Kipp cleverly makes the short about so much more than that. He uses lighting, framing and editing to ensure that each shot delivers exactly what it should — there are scares and real emotion in this short’s compact 12-minute runtime and it offers a chilling, thrilling examination of the human condition, discovery, addiction and codependency. 
Painkiller is clever, shocking and very well-made. Check it out, you will not be disappointed.

SO WHERE’S IT AT? The short is available to rent or buy at a bargain price on Vimeo right here! Alternatively, you can pick up a DVD and a wealth of cool merchandise at the short’s official web site, so you’ve got no excuse people! 
Also I suggest that you hit the Painkiller Facebook page with a Like. It’s a great short and well worthy of your support.

10 WORD WRAP UP: Body-horror, science-fiction and torture in this fantastic film

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Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

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