Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Jeremiah Kipp's Contact (2009) Drugs Can Be Somewhat Bad
So you want a quick, intense high? You think maybe that weird guy in the abandoned building isn’t really all that creepy and his “product” will give you just what you need? You’re thinking maybe doing the mysterious drug with your lover will bring you closer together?
Watch Jeremiah Kipp’s short film Contact and think again.
The film begins with an older couple solemnly setting a table. They’re exacting in how they perform this action, and I have to tell you, meticulous people sometimes make me nervous. Filmed in moody black-and-white, the lack of dialogue and nervously sad expressions on the pair added to the tense atmsophere. We’re then introduced to a young couple in love, played with real chemistry by Zoe Daelman Chlanda and Robb Leigh Davis. They buy a mysterious, unnamed hallucinogen from a strange drug dealer who has the only real clearly-spoken dialogue in the entire short. From there, the young couple descends into a trip that begins with an erotic atmosphere, but quickly turns disturbing and hellish enough to make David Cronenberg say "whoa."
It’s an effective anti-drug piece that presents you with some questions to ask yourself after viewing, ways in which the story could go according to your perception of the film. Personally, I like to be challenged in that way, to allow my own fevered brain to come up with answers as to what came before, what the drug could be, why it affected them the way it did, and why the story was bookended with the older couple. At the center of it all was this couple who seemed innocent and curious in their own way, and how this strange drug changed everything about them. Maybe it only changed them, as people and only physically. Maybe there’s something deeper, more – dare I say – supernatural about what happens. All I know is this: I’m not taking that drug.
Kipp’s direction leads your eyes to where they should be and it never felt disjointed. The calm portions were calm with a sense of foreboding and danger, and the drug-fevered sections were appropriately chaotic. Cult film figure and producer Alan Rowe Kelly has a memorable turn as the drug dealer, portraying him with sinister androgyny. Both Chlanda and Davis work well together onscreen, but I was especially struck by Chlanda’s performance – her terror, affection, and curiosity were conveyed stunningly through her eyes. With no dialogue, those eyes had to show everything. And show they did.
I asked Kipp a few quick questions about Contact and here’s what he said:
Regarding what inspired the subject matter: “A dozen filmmakers were asked to contribute to a Halloween film festival in downtown New York entitled Sinister Six -- and my contribution was Contact. A few years ago, I made a film about an underground drug entitled The Pod, but wanted to push the material further. I wanted something graphic, iconic, where each scene relied on visual elements to create tension, and my starting point was a body horror image of faces melted together. But I was also inspired by the rehearsal process involving my lead actress Zoe Daelman Chlanda. She has a unique charisma I wanted to tap into; I wondered what would happen if I used her as an iconic presence in the movie, immersing her in a nightmare world of romance and mystery."
Regarding the thought of a feature film along the same lines: “Perhaps, but I have other feature length narratives I would like to share that are closer to the front burner, such as a monster movie that I'm very keen on putting together. I would love to revisit the material of The Pod and Contact again, but to make it even more abstract, visually provocative and only 60 seconds long, in hyper-saturated colors with distorted images and a camera that is non-stop in its relentlessness.”
Regarding if we’ll see more from these characters: “I think artists wind up repeating the same stories over and over and over again. The character Zoe plays in Contact is not too far removed from the curious 10-year-old boy who was the hero of a movie I made a few years ago called The Christmas Party, where a child is dropped off at a holiday party run by Christians, and he finds himself within a conversion process that is both enlightening and brutal and mysterious. I'd like to believe we have not seen the last of these characters, since the actor playing Zoe's boyfriend (Robb Leigh Davis) said that after the movie is over, he will never stop searching for her. Maybe someday he will find her.”
A big thank-you to Jeremiah Kipp for taking the time to answer! You can view Contact at this link and watch, judge, and interpret for yourself.
And remember, fellow survivors, getting high during a zombie apocalypse might be fun in the short run, but one bad trip can make you a delicious entrée.