Film Review: UTUKKU (2018) (Short Film)

UTUKKU **** Canada 2018 Dir: Mathieu Laprise. 15 mins

A bite size mini-series, unfolding here in three 5 minute chapters, this has an affecting performance by Leanne Desilets as a downtrodden high school student, frequently bullied by Principal’s daughter Zeneb Blanchet and initially seen forcibly shut in her own locker. Desperately seeking some kind of solace and retribution, she visits a Shaman named Mr Abu (Hamidou Savadogo), whose policy is “no refunds”, and scrapes together enough cash for a two day loan of a creepy amulet-clutching doll. She has 48 hours in which to return it in good condition and is obliged to agree to the rules of being allowed to wish for anything (by whispering into the doll’s ear) except for death.

This light teen horror has appealing performances and a pleasant streak of knowing humour – but also offers a neat role-reversal power shift on the expected high school bullying cliques of American horror. The potentially hackneyed premise is handled with wit and irony: finally given the opportunity to get even with a pervasive enemy, the most inventive justice the heroine can create involves hitting her nemesis with a basketball and getting her to piss her pants. The best joke was also appropriated by the recent U.S. teen horror COUNTDOWN: so much of the suffering comes about because of teenagers too lazy to read the instructions / terms and conditions, even when they are literally a matter of life and death.

Review by Steven West


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