When most people think about horror movies, their minds conjure up images of deranged serial killers, fearsome monsters and otherworldly demons.
Ceramic Tango, a short film created by award winning Montreal filmmaker, Patricia Chica, is a different kind of horror, and it cuts deeper than any conventional slasher flick.
The film has garnered much support in the horror community, culminating in winning the Best Film award from the prestigious Shockfest film festival.
“The horror community has embraced the film as something very fresh and new,” said Chica. “They see it as something that pushes the genre to the next level because it’s not gory or trashy, but psychological and smart.”
The film depicts a simple scenario: Riley (Holy Scar) is in his bathroom conducting his daily routine.
But there is evil lurking about. There is another entity in the room — A killer, a monster, a demon.
The Intruder (Richard Cardinal), is a manifestation of pure wickedness that relishes in the taunting and torture of his victims.
Riley can’t fight this villain with a rifle or a machete. The vile creature has somehow become a part of him, he’s inside him, forcing our hero to submit to a fate that is both innately terrifying yet at the same time, uncomfortably familiar. There is nothing otherworldly about the agony our hero suffers and it is this familiarity that cuts straight to our heart, making us empathize with his fear and share in his misery.
With a running time of only 10 minutes, Ceramic Tango manages to paint a portrait of a life gone awry.
Riley’s desperate plight against evil is shared with glimpses of his sordid past and reflections on a future shrouded in darkness. The flashes of eccentric images — metal faucets recoiling, shower curtains coming alive, sexual flashbacks devolving into macabre dances — make you constantly question what is real in this morbid tapestry.
Holy Scar and Richard Cardinal both deliver electrifying performances, especially Cardinal who supplements his menacing appearance with a seductively sinister voice that stays in your head long after the credits have rolled.
“He is like the grim reaper of the spiritual realm,” said Cardinal about his character. “He is the boogeyman that waits in the corner … watching you be unsafe, watching you give in to temptation so he may finally attack.”
The powerful performances are a pleasant surprise considering that both Scar and Cardinal are fetish performers and have no prior acting credits.
To prepare for their roles, Scar and Cardinal trained with acting coach Kristian Hodko, best known for his voice work on Far Cry 3.
On the challenge of training Scar and Cardinal, Hodko said, “I saw it more as an opportunity than a challenge. Working with non-actors is a fantastic chance to create great work because they have no preconceived notions on what acting is. We were able to get really raw performances.”
The rest of the production is equally impressive. Toronto screenwriter Charles Hall wrote a script that is engaging, ominous and multi-faceted. The music, beautifully haunting and atmospheric, was done by American composer Justin Lassen who works on The Walking Dead. The cinematographer is Quebecer Marin Bouchard who did a stellar job at creating a distinct look to the many memorable scenes.
Ceramic Tango is a cautionary tale. It is scary because we identify with it. Most of us have never experienced fleeing from an axe wielding, hockey mask-wearing, lunatic, but the dangers, temptations and repercussions that exist in Ceramic Tango hit close to home, delivering a powerful message that resonates and lingers.
“It is very important to me that my movies make people think differently on a subject matter and see new perspectives,” said Chica. “That’s what my cinema is all about.”
Even if horror is not your usual cup of tea, Ceramic Tango is an impressive film and worth checking out.
Ceramic Tango is available for sale through patriciachica.wix.com/ceramictango