“Postpartum” (2015): A Friendly Gesture Is Met with Madness in Surprise-Filled Horror Short


One of my favorite approaches to horror films is when you, the viewer, see exactly what’s happening but you don’t know exactly what is going on, thanks to, for example, a clue that isn’t fully flushed out or a mystery that goes unresolved. Prolific horror-short filmmaker Izzy Lee uses this technique in her dizzying effort Postpartum, which packs a fair amount of mystery and madness into its 6-minute running time.

Diana (frequent Izzy Lee collaborator Diana Porter) checks on her friend Holly (Kasey Lansdale) after not hearing from her for months. Holly has an eviction notice hanging on her front door, and she is less than friendly and pleased when she answers the door. She’s unwashed and unkempt, a strange smell permeates her home, and there are blood stains on her nightgown. She says that her baby is sick, and Diana is startled to learn that Holly already had her baby. Holly is suddenly incapacitated by screams that only she can hear. Diana goes to check on the baby and makes a terrifying discovery. Unfortunately for her, the shocks won’t end there.

Postpartum Confrontation resized
Diana (Diana Porter; left) is disturbed when she  finds  her friend Holly (Kasey Lansdale) in a psychologically volatile state in director Izzy Lee’s Postpartum.

Izzy Lee, working from a screenplay that she cowrote with Christopher Hallock – the two had worked together on the short A Favor from the same year, reviewed here  – creates a claustrophobic, unsettling atmosphere which slowly builds in dread. I won’t discuss Postpartum’s reveals because I don’t want to give away spoilers, but they are solid and unexpected.

Kasey Lansdale gives a chilling performance as the troubled Holly. Whether Holly is suffering from postpartum depression or a far worse affliction is open to interpretation, but Lansdale portrays her insane character impressively. This is the third Izzy Lee short in which I have seen Diana Porter perform, after A Favor and Innsmouth, reviewed here; each time she shows a different range of emotions. Here she plays a caring, confused friend whose world becomes quickly bizarre and frightening the moment Holly opens her door, and she gives a fine turn, as she has done in the previously mentioned shorts.

Postpartum wrap
All Diana (Diana Porter) wanted to do was check on the welfare of her friend; within moments, she is immersed in a macabre world of insanity.

The technical aspects of Postpartum are striking, from Bryan McKay’s (another frequent collaborator with Izzy Lee) sharp cinematography, eerie set design, and crisp editing to Izzy Lee’s set design; to Shayne Gryn’s (another Lee regular) score, which includes some unnerving music box tones.

Postpartum is currently making the film festival rounds; upcoming dates can be found at http://www.nihilnoctem.com/#!postpartum/c1s3c. If you have yet to discover Izzy Lee’s considerable talents and hair-raising short films, this is a fine, freaky place to start.

Postpartum: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Postpartum poster

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.