JP Bradham’s Consumed deploys horror and tumultuous film language to showcase the frenzied mental scape of a character caught in the throes of grief and shopping. It is simultaneously committed to silence as denial in incidents both old and fresh, which eventually becomes a well of fear in its own right. As the film closes, it is this silence that prevails over the frenzy.
Tammy (Georgina Reilly) shops obsessively on her phone. Delivery cartons lie inside and outside the house. The (analogue) TV is set to infomercials. It is like this that her husband (Michael, played by Matthew Grondin) finds her on his return from work, after picking up two new packages from the front door. The packages arrive invisibly as if delivered by some supernatural force that surpasses detection. The film launches into its dramatic style immediately, framing Michael and Tammy in split focus. The unnatural composition enhances the sickly aura cast by the green-yellow lighting. Besides this direct use of horror, camp also plays a role, though it does not elicit laughter so much as underscore the sinister nature of Tammy’s current fixation with consumption.
An abrupt tilt-up from the cartoonish UI on Tammy’s phone brings Michael into Tammy’s orbit proper. The tension simmering between them takes centre stage and provides insight into Tammy’s character. Overwhelmed by the grief of losing her mother, Tammy has taken to shopping for household products to distract herself from the loss. In comparison to the dramatic visuals, the cartons within the house are kept relatively understated, as though become part of the natural decor of the house. The day she expects to put the house in order is not likely to arrive soon, the film seems to say.
Campy horror returns in full force once Michael gives up on his latest attempt to connect with Tammy. The TV comes to life with an infomercial for knives that cut through anything. The too-happy presenter (Shaw Jones) in his brightly lit studio feels like an alien presence in Tammy’s damp-green living room. An audience member (Deirdre Devlin) called to test the efficacy of the knives amplifies the artificial exuberance to a near unbearable degree. Everyone is unnaturally happy, the knives are unnaturally sharp, and the host is unnaturally fond of proving it. The exaggeration is unsettling in the current context, drawing troubling attention to the products crowding her house. Tammy may already be inextricably involved in the horrors she witnessed on screen. That is, simply switching off the TV may not be enough to safeguard her.
Consumed presents a commentary on consumerism that is fittingly disquieting, using its inherent ridiculousness against it. The finale may pale in comparison with the film’s general finesse, but this depends on the viewer’s subjective tastes. One does, however, appreciate the silence in it, as deadly as the knives on TV.
Watch Consumed Short Film Trailer
Consumed: Serving Consumerism Plated on a Foundation of Grief