VICE Shorts

I'm Short Not Stupid Presents: 'The Cub'

By Jeffrey Bowers

Welcome to "I'm Short, Not Stupid," a weekly column focused on highlighting rare and obscure short films. Enjoy this flick (the video is towards the bottom) and check back next week for another peculiar adventure in the art of short moving pictures.

It's refreshing to get back to the basics. Things seem clearer, easier to decipher, and just simpler. You can lock into what’s really important and go for it. For the short film The Cub, Filmmaker Riley Stearns went beyond the basics. He left society completely, and traveled deep into the woods. He shred the story down to its essentials, utilizing only four actors all shot in one location. The movie could have cost $50 to make, but he used that simplicity to enhance his aesthetic. It all came together to make The Cub so dynamic, I was emotionally struck by the major events of the film, even though they often happened off camera.  

The Cub tells the story of a five-year-old girl, who reads at an eight-year-old’s level. Her middle class parents turn her over to a pack of wolves so that she will learn “strength, self-reliance, and cunning behavior.” The girl is timid at first, clutching to her father’s leg. But eventually, she womans up because like her dad says, “[wolves] can smell fear."

Feral children always appeal to our civilized culture. It has something to do with our innate hatred for most societal constructs. I totally see the allure of learning survival skills and living with animals. I went camping the other weekend and took in the fresh mountain air and felt a profound connection to mother nature, even though my car sat a mere hundred feet away. On the flip side, there’s this illusion that people untainted by human society won’t possess our same faults, but that’s a load of wolf shit. Wolves are terrifying creatures, even if their howls and stances are majestic. They are greedy sons of bitches who tear other animals limb from limb. What’s not an illusion, however, is that a lot of humans are dumb and shouldn’t have kids. Maybe that’s the point of Stearns movie—your kids hate you for having them in this stupid, mixed up, crazy world. So maybe it’s best to not give them the "strength, self-reliance, and cunning behavior" they can use to fuck you up.

Riley Stearns was born in Austin, Texas. He has written for Tower Prep on Cartoon Network. He made a two great and peculiar shorts called Magnificat and Casque, which both star his wife Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Riley is currently working on a feature-length movie about a young cult member's deprogramming. The thing is, the expert performing the deprogramming doesn’t know who is worse: the cult, or the boy's parents. It should prove to be weird, wild, and worth checking out.

Jeffrey Bowers is a tall mustached guy from Ohio who's seen too many weird movies. He currently lives in Brooklyn, working as an art and film curator. He is a programmer at the Hamptons International Film Festival and screens for the Tribeca Film Festival. He also self-publishes a super fancy mixed-media art serial called PRISM index.

@PRISMindex

Previously  -  I Want to Be a Pilot

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