Contact is a short film from New York based filmmaker Jeremiah Kipp, and it’s a mind-altering experience if there ever was one. Opening with a middle aged couple (played by Katherine O’Sullivan and Tom Reid) waiting for a guest to arrive, we are immediately transported to a seedy underbelly in a derelict estate where we see a young couple purchasing drugs. When they arrive home, they strip naked and wait for the narcotics to take effect, and when they do, they embark on a hallucinogenic odyssey that’s both surreal and horrifying.
When it comes to avant garde horror, much of the praise and criticism is very much the same. The experimental and abstract nature of the films leave much to be interpreted and dissected, and what we take from them might not be what the filmmaker was intending. In Contact, the moral I took from the story is that drug use is both dangerous, but not without its enjoyable qualities. Here, Kipp uses mood and imagery to perfection, creating a tale that makes the prospect of recreational drug use seem terrifying; though, at the same time, it embraces the sense spirituality that can arise from a high as well, as we witness our central lovers entwined as horrors unfold. Lead actors Zoe Daelman Chlanda and Rob Leigh Davis don’t have a lot of dialogue to work with, and while their roles are more or less primarily intended to serve as caricatures in a drug-induced trip, they still manage to carry themselves with aplomb.
The film is shot entirely in black and white, which coupled with the sound design, gives it a nightmarish quality throughout. Watching it might prove to be a dreamlike, hazy experience for some viewers. In some ways — mostly through sound, visuals and the mood it evokes — it is quite reminiscent of the films of Guy Maddin and David Lynch circa Eraserhead. However, that’s not to say that Kipp is aping those filmmakers by any means; more than anything, Contact is evidence that he has the potential to operate on the same level as cinemas most accomplished and truest auteurs.
I can’t recommend this short film enough. It’s a cautionary tale told with style and some of the images will stick with you long after the end credits role. Who knows how far Kipp will go as a filmmaker, but if Contact is anything to go by, don’t be surprised if he takes us to some deep, strange and wholly unsettling places.
Contact (5 / 5)