Before digital cameras and the anti-red-eye effect made all our pictures look good, we were subject to possibility of evil eyes and glares ruining our moments of happiness, but now no more—every image can be tweaked into perfection. Though maybe the red eye effect was sometimes an added bonus. In my family we always took two photos: one real and one scary. You could never tell who would be infected or which image would be more affected.
Director Jonathan Caouette took the red-eye effect to a new level in his 2010 short film All Flowers in Time, which was just released online for the first time. The film relies heavily on dream logic, a la David Lynch—its "plot" concerns a young American family watching a French cowboy host a surreal Dutch TV show that broadcasts sinister waves that deeply affect viewers, giving them red glowing eyes and making them believe they can transform into monsters. This visually and sonically arresting film gets under your skin quickly, pushing the boundaries of the short horror film to the limit.
The characters who inhabit the TV are disconnected and even disembodied as they rattle eccentric sayings from their mouths. The uneasiness is lapped up by the viewers, played by Chloë Sevigny and Chandler Frantz. The climax, which features a murderous, screaming vagina horse-face is the perfect climax to a horror film and a great end to the holidays.
All Flowers in Time has screened at dozens of international film festivals including Cannes and the New York Film Festival. It was produced by the amazing short film funders over at PHI Films. I've posted about a couple of their films before, including Danse Macabre. Jonathan Caouette is most recognized for his feature debut, Tarnation, which premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and went on to play Cannes Director’s Fortnight, TIFF, NYFF, and more. It was the talk of 2004 and won him a lot of recognition for blending documentary, narrative, and experimental elements, and both Gus Van Sant and John Cameron Mitchell came on as producers. In 2009 he directed a documentary about the music festival All Tomorrows Parties and did another film in 2011 about his mentally ill mother called Walk Away Renee. He’s got some other stuff planned, but none of it’s launching anytime soon.
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.