Daily Archives: June 2, 2021

Creswick (2017)

*. A decent horror short, probably of most interest because it was the basis for writer-director Natalie Erika James’s subsequent feature debut Relic (2020). But it’s an interesting enough movie in its own right.
*. The basic idea is that a woman visiting her father discovers that he is slipping into dementia. The old family home is “haunted” in a way that is all the more disturbing for feeling so domestic. The father knows something is not quite right. He is also turning into something strange: something scary and, at first blush, monstrous.
*. The main difference between this film and Relic is that the father’s dementia takes a weirdly expressive form. He’s a carpenter and has a commission to make chairs in his shop. What the daughter discovers, however, is that the chairs are becoming stranger.
*. What I found interesting about this is that the chairs are quite creative, like insect skeletons or the kind of furniture David Cronenberg might have dreamt up. I’d far rather buy one of them and keep it just as a conversation piece than have one of his normal chairs that seem to just be made to a standard pattern. I’ve had friends who turned out chairs like that. Nice, but nothing special. Those dementia chairs, however, are works of art.
*. There is a link that’s often made between madness and art, though I’ve never heard of dementia expressing itself in this way. The mother in Relic works on her own crafts (handmade candles), but they aren’t as visually arresting, or as important to the story as the chairs are here.
*. Most short films tend to come with a punchline, and often I wonder if they’re worth expanding on. The short and feature-length versions of Lights Out offer a good example. I like Relic, but watching Creswick made me think about whether James really added that much that was essential. In retrospect, much of it seems like standard horror padding. That said, even in ten minutes here there’s more to think about than in most full-length films. It may just be an impression, but while we have plenty of (overly) complicated plots these days, our movies seem to be about less and less.