'Consumed' is an engaging and dark short film from Los Angleles based director, J P Bradham - whose previous work includes the eerie and unnerving sci-fi short 'Proxy', and with this film also daring viewers to imagine a twisted dystopian future, it seems that fans of this genre are in for a treat yet again!
Georgina Reilly (Pontypool, Quantum Leap, CSI: Vegas, Murdoch Mysteries) plays as Tammy, an online shopping obsessed cellphone addict who is endlessly in pursuit of the next purchase, finger poised to hit 'add to basket' in a fraction of a heartbeart for the right shiny gadget, or new kitchen utensil. Her tolerant but increasingly exasperated husband, Michael played by Matthew Grondin (Playstation Girl, Networking Awesome, Westworld, Reckless RollPlay) seems supportive, but is clearly aware of the growing impact his wife's addiction is having on their relationship.
A subtle air of weirdness from the offset takes a sudden and graphic turn during an infomercial for an irresistible set of sharp kitchen knives which Tammy promptly orders, turning the tension up to 11 and setting the scene for a potential bloodbath.
With Shaw Jones (Proximity, Star Trek: Picard, NCIS, It's Always Sunny in Philedelphia, Criminal Minds, Jimmy Kimmel Live!) and Deirdre Devlin (Honest Monster, A Little Late with Lilly Singh, Robot Chicken) providing some on-screen support in roles of a comedic/parodic nature, a twist is delivered as a sense of growing unease mounts with outrageously confronting violence in an almost slapstick humour style.
Overall, this is an interesting commentary on the cult-like brainwashing of cellphone apps coded with the primary purpose of tapping into our psychology in order to maximise user-engagement, the intense dopamine release we can associate with finding a great online shopping bargain, our suggestibility as human beings, how easily we can be influenced when social trends and technology merge in cyberspace, and the incidious addictions we can develop with our mobile phones. Some good comedic moments help to make this entertaining as well as thought provoking, and performances by both Georgina Reilly and Matthew Grondin are believable and compelling. The set and make-up are decent too, with special effects which are effective without being overstated.
Film critic and jury member, Leanne Burnam-Richards said the film was a "really original take on consumerism"; with acclaimed horror and comedy actor and jury member, Dean Ackerman (Tales of the Creeping Death, St. Baptiste's) adding that "the acting was spot on and what starts off as a sad tale of a woman dealing with the loss of a loved one through spending and social media, twists to an unexpected climax".
With strong acting, heavy tension, subtle humour, a warped premise and a pinch of insanity, this film is like a scene from MonkeyDust, presented as an episode of Black Mirror; ultimately a rather chilling tale, but one not to be taken too seriously - and the inclusion of visual humour definitely elevates this from what could otherwise have been a bog-standard short thriller into the dizzy heights of comedy horror.
This film will be enjoyed by fans of dark comedy and horror comedy movies, and may also appeal to those with an interest in dystopian science-fiction. A thoroughly enjoyable and well-produced film with a stellar cast all doing a fantastic job.