SLAPFACE **** USA 2018 Dir: Jeremiah Kipp. 8 mins
A young boy (Joshua Kaufman) walks through woodland hearing ominous voices and seemingly pursued by a malevolent long-haired figure dressed in rags. A striking autumnal visual palette provides an appropriate backdrop to what initially appears to be a terrifying riff on fairy tale archetypes, but prolific writer-director Jeremiah Kipp’s story evolves into a perceptive child’s eye view of bereavement, and the need for comfort in the throes of grief, no matter what form that may take.
The juvenile protagonist’s efforts to adjust to the recent death of his mother are hindered by a father who represents a typical adult’s inability to understand a child’s coping mechanisms or even deal with the event himself : the best solutions he can come up with are medication and physical punishment (“You running around getting all crazy weird…”). The boy finds solace in a monster (“She doesn’t know you’re playing…”) in a thoughtful short beautifully shot by Dominick Sivilli and showcasing a nerve-jangling score by Giovanni Spinelli.
Review by Steven West