Written and Directed by Haji Outlaw
Music by Billy Ray Valentine
Short Film Review by Chris Olson
Inventive and bafflingly funny cinema from filmmaker Haji Outlaw with his short film Humor, that combines an outrageous narrative and quirky comedy with superbly controlled filmmaking.
Greeted by a man wearing what can only be described as a metal bear head, Outlaw's film begins as it means to go on...to embrace the absurd. The narrator embarks on his story about 10-year-old Humor and his coming-of-age journey to become a man, which involves Mother Russia, a murderous bear, being eaten to death by wild boars, and numerous other anecdotes which create a marvellous collage of creative brilliance from the storyteller.
Utilising fourth-wall breaking and anarchic disjoints to the plot, Outlaw treats his audience as intelligent individuals who will either get it or loath it. Fortunately for this film reviewer I thought it was a genuinely smart and ingenious piece of filmmaking. The script is sharper than a bear claw and just as dangerous, in particular a line regarding an erection so hard it could pierce Siberian steel that was immensely hilarious. The loose attitude towards storytelling was then brilliantly contrasted by calculated editing and camerawork that made sure the viewer felt in capable hands, and wonderful music from Billy Ray Valentine that completely enhanced the offbeat atmosphere that was being cultivated.
The use of intercutting was sporadic and effective, allowing the momentum to be momentarily unhinged was a risky tactic but one that allowed the fairytale nature of Humor to feel fuelled by imagination and bizarre visuals. There were also some nice callbacks to earlier jokes which worked really well. It would have been nice had the narrative ended up somewhere a little more worthwhile but as a piece of absurdist storytelling that may have felt contrived.
Few filmmakers are able to pull off this kind of comedy with such controlled style and pointed humour. To be able to present such a weird and wonderfully tale with remarkable skill behind the camera testifies to Outlaw's potential and marks him as a filmmaker to watch, especially as he seems to have a penchant for a plethora of genres which I would happily watch him attempt with new, outrageous stories.
Watch the official movie trailer for Humor below...