Addictions of many different varieties have long been an important theme in horror cinema, including addictions to blood, money, sex, murder, and the like. Writer/director Karen Gillan’s short horror film Conventional examines addiction to celebrity and fame, boasting powerful emotion and an engrossing performance by Gillan, who also stars.
Karen Gillan – well known to genre fare fans for her roles in Oculus, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Dr. Who – portrays Rachel Milligan, an actress who once had a brush with fame when she toplined a slasher film named Axe Wound 2. Now Milligan is relegated to touring the horror convention circuit and isn’t exactly drawing long lines. She has had more than one too many collagen shots to her lips, she’s feeling her age, and money is apparently so tight that she resorts to desperate measures because she is making no money on new, autographed head shots.
Conventional is a bleak 9-minute ride, as viewers see Rachel Milligan go from fake-it-’til-you-make-it bubbly to a decidedly downward spiral. Her few fans cosplay as the killer from Axe Wound 2 and aren’t the most socially skilled people around. At a Q&A session, one of these fans asks her, “What does horror mean to you?” Her initial answer is rather surface level, but as her fast trip down continues, she addresses the question again later. It is at this point that Karen Gillan gives the most moving part of her performance, baring her character’s soul and putting her depression – caused at least in part by her fall from her shot at “the big time” or what passed for it – front and center.
Though not overtly graphic, Conventional deals with themes of sex and violence, with accompanying visuals usually obscured by objects or people. Karen Gillan gets her points across in a more subtle manner than bludgeoning viewers’ senses. She proves herself to be a true talent behind the camera as well as in front of it, and her dialogue rings harshly true. She is impressive as an actress playing an actress initially, which is no easy feat in itself, but when Gillan turns on Rachel’s heartbreaking emotional decline, she proves herself to be a truly formidable performer. You can see for yourself now by watching Conventional on Fun Size Horror’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIWRI1g_NFE.
Conventional: (4.5 / 5)