When Glaswegian film-maker Andy Stewart set out to make a body horror short to kick start an anthology he surely could not have anticipated the kind of response Dysmorphia has been getting across the globe. No screening of the film has been complete without audience members fainting or rushing out to vomit – a physical repulsion rarely found in the age of torture-porn, gratuitous gore and extreme horror. So what is it about this 12 minute masterpiece that has everyone reeling?
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Well the subject matter alone may be enough to turn stomachs amongst the faint-hearted; the story of a man who chooses to voluntarily remove some of his own body parts, with little to no surgical skills and a range of domestic implements. The intense focus on the troubled male lead, played bravely by Gordon Holliday, draws us right in to the grotesque nature of his actions to the point where we don’t question his intentions and begin to cheer him on in his gruesome task. The film certainly doesn’t hold back on the blood and the viscera but, surprisingly, champions that age old idea that what is implied is often much more disturbing that what can be shown on screen, choosing to encourage us to envision the worst of the gore ourselves. Expertly placed close-ups of blood tainted hack-saws and cringe inducing sound effects of pliers cutting tendons do much of the work here, in fact it’s clear that every shot has been well thought out and executed with precision so as to build up tension and revulsion in equal measure.
Put it this way, if that scene in Danny Boyle’s 127 hours had you squirming then you have no chance of sitting through this one. If you decide to brave it make sure you have a sick bag at the ready.
Taking a minimalist yet decidedly artistic approach, the film was shot over 2 days with an impressive budget of only £160. Dysmorphia serves as a rallying call to short film-makers with ideas original and disturbing enough to find their way onto the big screen. Touted by the Twisted Twins as being “quite possibly one of the greatest short films that we have ever seen”, Dysmorphia should continue to gather momentum at festivals and events throughout the year and no doubt herald Andy Stewart as a film-maker to keep a keen eye on.
The film picked up Best Practical Effects from the Rio Grind festival in Vancouver and has played along side body-horror hits American Mary and Antiviral at a number of screenings in the UK. While it continues to tour international festivals director Andy Stewart is beginning work on the second instalment of his series Banquet.
Stay up to date with developments over on the Dysmorphia Facebook page and look out for a screening near you.