With Halloween fast approaching, a collection of horror films are in anticipation for general release, but setting aside these widely distributed features, we have an intriguing short film written and directed by Ethan Shaftel called Flesh Computer. Many are describing the film as ‘Cronenberg-esque’ in reference to body horror filmmaker David Cronenberg, and being a fan of the director myself, this was enough to capture my interest.
Combining elements of gore and sci-fi, Flesh Computer takes place in a derelict apartment complex as the creator of a grotesque creature, which appears half electronic half flesh, is hounded by two individuals who threaten the nature of his beloved creation. When viewing the feature, I instantly noticed a comparison to Cronenberg’s films through the gruesome cyber creature, which as it smacked its fleshy lips together carried connotations of female genitals. It was quite reminiscent of Cronenberg’s 1983 film Videodrome, which used similar metaphors, as the main character forcibly inserts his hand through a protruding gash in his stomach.
The narrative follows three people, the creator of the unsightly creature, a delinquent accompanied by his friend, and a young girl with a bionic eye who also lives in the complex. As they go about their daily routines, their paths collide as a confrontation between the bully and the creator occurs, whilst the young girl witnesses from afar. There is also a rather annoying fly which keeps making an appearance amongst the drama, which although holding value towards the film’s theoretical approach, the CGI is not all that impressive. Philosophical aspects of the film are presented via a TV screen which features well known philosopher David Chalmers. He narrates and poses interesting questions about the limits of human consciousness, which I found to be enjoyable through its subtle presentation.
Winning Best Special Effects at the Indie Horror Festival this year, I think Flesh Computer would make for an interesting watch as you celebrate Halloween. At thirteen minutes long, this film would not benefit from a feature length release as it carries all the qualities needed for a short movie, from a tight plot line through to the interesting philosophical questions, which effectively cloud the distinction between human and machine.