Directed by: #TheoHogben
What starts with a sweet romantic evening spent indoors watching an old black and white movie soon turns into a very disturbing tale about a pathological voyeur. Short film A Most Savage Beast cunningly transforms our cinematic experience into an act of voyeurism itself by trapping us in the role of passive viewers seeking pleasure from watching the film. In fact, it is not the violence or the blood and gore that horrifies us, we are hardly ever shown the actual murder or blood; but it is the way she nonchalantly manipulates the people around her to the extreme that she kills those who threaten to jeopardize her design.
Director Theo Hogben leaves interesting visual cues for us to catch on the narrative easily without giving away the plot twist. We notice the polaroid camera lying on the floor, the sensual manner in which her fingers trail the black wall tracing its rough texture, the way she keeps biting her lips throughout the film, we realize their sexual undertones and yet we fail to expect what follows next. It is only afterwards, that things fall into place. The background music is deliberately misleading in the beginning, playing rhythmic melodies to keep up with the overall light mood of the opening scene and then suddenly shifts to a more sinister note at the point of conflict.
Framing is important, the camera holds the composition still and watches it through the calculated framework as dictated by our protagonist like in her photographs, and in turn the cinematographer and director. She is a control freak. Everything is under her control, meticulously planned to happen the way she fantasizes about it. She exhibits impulsive rage and aggression as suggested by her facial expressions and involuntary crumpling of the newspaper she was reading when any slight variable occurs that has the potential to affect her grand scheme.
Unfortunately, certain scenes especially the conversation between the second couple at the bar when the girl inquires about her missing phone and then again at the cafe when she starts crying while relating the death of her ex-boyfriend do not seem convincing. Perhaps, hiding her face behind her hair was an effort to salvage the shot at the last minute, however, the flawed acting fails to bring out the powerful impact that this scene is supposed to bring. As a result, their dialogue appears dragged and unrealistic. In contrast to that, the protagonist’s acting is so natural that her little gestures of impatience as she portrays it by closing her eyes and letting out a sigh has the desired effect on us. Simultaneously her vulgar acts of murder frightens us out of our wits because of the shocking unlikelihood of her actions in comparison to her usual self.
One needs to admit that A Most Savage Beast brilliantly portrays the story of a sociopath while playing with the idea of voyeurism and teasing the audience with questions it leaves us to answer for ourselves.