“When Susurrus Stirs” (2016): Top-Notch Gore Effects Take Center Stage in Disturbing Body Horror Short

How much viewers might enjoy the short film When Susurrus Stirs depends on their tolerance level for body horror. The film is filled with goopy, gloppy, gore effects but definitely has more going for it than just spectacular practical effects work.

In director Anthony Cousins’ short, a nameless man (Nathan Tymoshuk) becomes the host to a parasitic creature with plans to take over much more real estate than just the man’s body. Trying not to give too much away, suffice it to say that the man narrates about his experiences as the host, including what this could mean once matters ultimately play out, as we see him change physically and mentally while the parasite continues to grow.

Usually body horror is a subgenre that I tread lightly into or avoid altogether, but there are occasional exceptions that pique my interest, and When Susurrus Stirs falls squarely in that category. The story is minimalistic, but for the right reasons; it feeds viewers enough backstory to immerse us in the world of the film but leaves plenty of room for us to imagine what might happen once the short ends.

What is on nearly constant, horrific display is the practical special effects work of Ryan Schaddelee, who was SFX makeup artist on last year’s I Am Not a Serial Killer. This is challenging, stomach-churning stuff and the filmmakers aren’t shy to show the effects in close-ups. If boils, open wounds, and rotting flesh are visuals that you would rather avoid – no judgement here; as I mentioned earlier, I have an aversion to watching body horror and it is because of reasons like this – you might want to think twice about tackling this short. If, however, you are willing to take the plunge, you may come away intrigued, if not more than a little queasy. Fans of The Incredible Melting Man and David Cronenberg’s The Fly will find much to like here, and cosmic horror aficionados  will find enough dread on tap to come away satisfied, as well.

When Susurrus Stirs is currently on the film festival circuit. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/whensusurrusstirs/.

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

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.