Before Alrik Bursell made The Alternate which I absolutely enjoyed (review link), this director worked on Parka. It’s a short film which is finally available to stream beginning Sept 13th, 2023, and it’s a great horror-comedy with a bit of an animal rights message added on top. The spin is very Stephen King. Or should I say it’s presented like one of Joe Dante’s horror films, namely Gremlins?
The premise is simple: Lauren Taylor excellently plays a well to do, stuck up socialite named Sara that can put Alexandra (from the classic Josie and the Pussycats cartoon) to shame. She claims to be a well-meaning activist in various circles, but the snarky attitude and what’s said foreshadows what’s still to come. After talking to her bestie, Josh (played by Ed Gonzalez Moreno), what they discuss is worth paying attention to. The direction by Bursell and Marcella Cortland really plays with emphasizing what’s important and also set up the expectations for later.
This diddy is basically a “slice of life” and “you gotta practise what you preach” narrative. What happens next feels like an homage to all those creature feature films of the 80s and to hide the puppeteers animating the action, the darkness used during the climax is used to great effect. What I liked is that even these creatures have personalities. It’s not something that the animators and foley artists can effectively emote, but I laughed very hard when the subtitles of their animal language nailed it.
I wouldn’t mind seeing an expanded narrative where the terror becomes the next big thing. As much as I’d like to see this piece develop to become like the cult franchise, Critters, that’s going to require full studio support to get the creators of this film motivated and really going. As this film is set in San Francisco and the hotel location (Fairmont) is used to picturesque effect, I’d welcome this as much as I’d welcome the fond classic Big Trouble in Little China. Perhaps there’s a back story waiting to be told, but we won’t get any information until viewers express a desire that they must know how the return of certain dead animals factors into this tale!
And I must say, after watching this piece, I have to see Ghostbusters again. Just how this short film expands up a concept in an approximately 12 second sequence from that classic is absolutely fabulous. I won’t spoil it by saying which scene I had running in my head, but I’m guessing this film’s design was fully unintentionally inspired by that moment.
Playing at the New York Iron Mule Short Comedy Film Festival.
Sept 11, 2023; Slipper Room: 167 Orchard St at 7pm.
Parka will be released on Sept. 13, 2023 on Film Shortage as a Daily Pick.