How far would you go for fashion?

Starring: Ellen Mareneck, Erika Johanson, J.D. Carter, Keith Abramson
Rating: 8/10
Directed By: Ian Fischer
Runtime: 15 minutes

This is one of those reviews where I have no idea where to start, so I’ll start by saying that . . . sometimes it just helps to get something down on the screen, so the big blank white space stops mocking you . . . and then I figured screw it, if you’re not already familiar with my stream of consciousness ramblings you soon will be, so let’s just run with it!

Foet is a short film . . . and while this isn’t the time or the place for a rant, I personally feel that short films don’t get the respect they deserve. Short film is tricky to do correctly, and doing it right is an art form much different than making a feature length film. It’s not as flashy, it doesn’t make the money that features do, and it really pisses me off when I see it treated like the slow sibling (what a cute little film you made. Let’s put it up on the refrigerator door with a smiley sun magnet, and then we’ll go see your brother’s real movie.). Book stores have short story collections, magazines print short stories, but short films rarely get any attention outside of film festivals, and even there they’re frequently shoved off to the side. And that’s a damn shame, because films like Foet don’t get seen often enough.

What is Foet? It’s a horror movie, but it’s a different horror movie. It’s not a gore-fest; in fact, with the exception of a nightmare sequence, there is no blood in this film. The horror is inside you, it’s in the situation. It’s a simple question . . . take something you believe in with all your heart and soul, and then imagine something that comes along that is against that thing you believe in . . . and you have to have it. Or maybe it’s a different question . . . how far are you willing to go in the name of fashion? That’s the thing about Foet, it’s short on the gore but it makes you think. You all know I loves me some torture-porn, but a CyberMonkey needs some intellectual stimulation too. Sometimes a movie is just mindless escapism (and that can be a good thing), but sometimes a film maker aspires to something more, and that’s a great thing.

OK, I’m intrigued . . . now tell me, what the hell is Foet? It’s a simple story of a woman, an actively pro-life woman, who finds herself drawn to the latest underground fashion trend . . . purses made from a rare leather. Foet. As in foetal. That’s right, purses made from the tanned hides of aborted fetuses! And here’s the beauty of the film . . . I’ve watched it several times and I honestly can’t say the film is pro-life, pro-choice, or pro-handbag. And I like that about it. It’s not trying to tell you how to think, it gives you the opportunity to think for yourself.

And in places it’s pretty funny. J.D. Carter, as the clerk in charge of the “finer accessories” department, gives a particularly nice performance, making me laugh at material that could very easily have come across as tasteless and offensive rather than satirical . . . such as his explanation of why some Foet is more expensive than other Foet (it has to do with the color).

On a second viewing of Foet, I also noticed some similarities in theme with a feature I reviewed a few months back, The Last Supper (Saigo no bansan). The women who have purchased one of these controversial accessories seem to radiate confidence, an almost magnetic aura that causes everyone to turn and watch as they walk by, just as the surgeon in The Last Supper became more confident and charasmatic after eating human flesh. These films seem to carry an underlying message that by breaking these major taboos, a person may gain a certain level of self actualization to a point that others recognize it and are attracted by it. Which once again would lead the thinking monkey to ask the question “At what cost?”.

I talked to the director, Ian Fischer, and quickly discovered that no actual fetuses were harmed in the making of this film. While I refused to delve into his personal feelings on the issues at hand (because let’s face it, either way his answer will color the film and I think that would kinda ruin the whole point), I really expected him to have gotten some flack from one if not both sides of the debate. And he hasn’t, although one of his film school professors did seem to distance himself after seeing the film. Think about that . . . no seriously, think about it. Inspiring fear in your teachers . . . that’s CyberMonkey!

The screenplay was based a short story written by F. Paul Wilson. Ian read it in a short story collection, immediately knew he wanted to film it, but had no idea how to get the rights. Then fate steps in. Wilson is doing a reading at a bookstore, Ian goes to the reading, introduces himself, and does the unthinkable . . . he just asks him if he can have the rights to shoot it. Wilson agrees, and even makes a set visit (and a brief cameo in the film). Let this be a lesson to you . . . sometimes you just have to monkey up and have the balls to ask for what you want. Way to go, Ian!

Foet has played at over 20 film festivals so far and is still getting accepted to more, so if you get a chance you have to see it. Also, keep your eyes peeled for another Fischer film currently making the rounds, Magritte Moment. It’s a lot less horror, a lot more surreal, a bit experimental . . . I dug it. Ian Fischer might just be a name to watch. He’s got a vision, he’s got a passion, and he’s got the balls to do things that are different.

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