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.
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.
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 / 5)