VANILLA CAKE **** USA 2016 Dir: Crystal Pastis. 8 mins
A grim, good looking short film from writer-director Crystal Pastis, whose C.V. also numbers an assistant editor gig on this year’s JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM. Overbearing, widowed all-American mom Julie Mitchell is preparing a juvenile party to mark her son’s (Coleton Ray) 16th birthday – while she slates his religion and his “obesity”.
Things take a turn for the worst with the realisation that she has baked a vanilla cake rather than the chocolate cake he requested. Pastis favours rapid-cut montages and a disquietingly cheerful colour palette for this tale of everyday domestic horror and bitterness, and relishes deconstructing the American family unit with dialogue references to Betty Crocker and Babe Ruth. Mitchell and Ray are terrific and the ending surprises by avoiding the expected final shock in favour of something more understated and sombre.
Review by Steven West