25 Feb 2022
Lemon follows a formula of old-school horror short stories by taking an initially innocuous interaction to a dark and disturbing place. The short film takes place in one room, creating a circular interiority which enhances a detached sense of loneliness and eventual psychopathy.
A man is sat with his eyes fixed on the television, having reduced his world to only that screen. His new neighbour enters, intending to get to know the shut-in next door. Featuring only two characters, both are played by the same performer, introducing the implication that their conversation could be playing out entirely in one man’s head. Expressing deep dark secrets to his guest, it’s as if he might have invented someone to talk to so as to talk to anyone.
The neighbour is given a glass of water and a banana, welcomed into his home with these symbols of hospitality. Questioned on his loneliness, the man explains he did have a girlfriend a long time ago, painting a picture of himself as an innocent victim of her criminal ways. Switching between one man and the other, the neighbour is bathed in red light, implying a sense of danger. The story itself builds to match this use of colour, becoming more sinister and foreboding.
Having become caught up in his girlfriend’s crimes, the man explains that when men came looking for them and demanding repayment of stolen money, he had no choice but to kill one of them. Shocked at the extreme and outlandish story, the neighbour questions how he could have gotten away with this.
‘The lemon tree out back,’ the man answers. ‘He’s buried under there.’
A startling revelation, yet prompting further questions. How could he have gotten away with this? Why would he tell this story now to a man he barely knows? The disturbed nature of his self-contained world fully reveals itself, as the last man who heard this story is also dead, buried also in the garden, under the banana tree.
The neighbour looks shocked, realising the symbol of hospitality he received and has eaten is in fact the product of a grave. Again the normalcy and banality of their introduction is retroactively signified as sinister, suggesting the man was in danger as soon as he walked through the door. The camera cuts to a lightbulb. It goes out.
Lemon’s claustrophobic atmosphere reveals a sinister core, continuing an enclosed circle of disquieting violence unseen by the outside world.