FRANCIS MAKES A FRIEND *** Canada 2019 Dir: Jake Braden, Logan Wood. 15 mins
The Francis of the title (Tristan Szucs) is a computer science student / outcast Freshman who finds himself awkwardly introduced to a new circle of friends. He doesn’t like beer, looks strangely familiar, has no social skills and endures an increasingly bizarre gathering involving off-kilter lines like “I could tell you but then I’d have to kill your four-year-old sister” and a fucked-up game of Dare.
This unpredictable, hallucinatory Canadian short doesn’t quite deliver the punchline it deserves but has a lot of fun getting there. Unfolding via signposted “Phases” it has a disarmingly offbeat style and sense of humour: the chapter entitled “Puppets” involves a truly unsettling, blackly funny amateur musical puppet show featuring a hooker, a murderous AIDS-infected john and a squishy, bloody outcome.
Review by Steven West