Film Review: PHILIA (2020)

PHILIA *** UK 2020 Dir: Sam Mason-Bell, Tyler Sage, Chris Milewski, Shane Ryan and Lilith Singson, Toby Hyder, Steven Longhurst, Tony Newton, Maude Michaud, Mike Reed. 96 mins

Philia is an anthology of 8 short films looking at abnormal desire or obsession in their own unique way. We open upon a man discussing the subject matter to an audience we see this audience between each segment. Philia; to love something or have sexual attraction to something not “Normal”.

The first film Mythophila was a great opening to the anthology, a man who may or may not have killed somebody appears to be terrorised in his own apartment but the deceased victim and although I failed to see the connection between being sexual attracted to mythical beasts and this film, that is the only negative thing I can say. The lighting was somewhat akin to Argento’s style with something very reminiscent of an old 70’s Giallo classic. The suspense built nicely as you wondered what would happen next and the clean cinematography was superbly edited. Great soundtrack too. I wanted it to continue and was very annoyed it had to end! Very fun short film indeed. Directed by Tyler Sage and I look forward to seeing more from him.

Second on the list we have Astrophilia-Destination Orion directed by Chris Milewski. I was very intrigued by this film, some excellent attempts to be Arty in the shots, lots of unusual events happening, we open on a man reading some quirky looking books while he reads aloud what sounds like bible texts, he is surrounded by space memorabilia and interesting items, we cut to a scene outside the voice continues to speak over the scenes, there are some interesting long shots interspersed with the man walking through the fields, a very Lynch like shot of a decomposing Rabbit, back to the man walking. The film continues on in a very mysterious way, gives little away as to the story but draws you in none the less. There are some references to the bible and Jesus that I found a little bit confusing, I may have missed something here? The reverb on the voice I also found very intense. For me this one was a mix of mystery and confusion that I didn’t dislike but found myself a little confused by the end. I didn’t dislike this film but felt I needed a little bit more from it. It was a very cleanly shot film with some great artistic editing.

Next, we have Dacryphilia & Hematolagnia directed by Shane Ryan and Lilith Singson. Dacrophilia a sexual attraction to tears and or sobbing and Hematolagnia sexual play with blood. This short film is a very artistic collation of sultry filming and a dark undertone. We open to a bloodied, wounded person and continue on to many clips of beautiful woman and lots of blood. Fantastic sound track and great imagery.  In a few short words, Stunning, Amazing, sexy and wonderfully shot. This was fun to watch, very dark and very sexy. Highly recommend watching.

Up next was Scratch by Maude Michaud, an interesting concept artistically shot with an edge of dark and sultry, a man has a sexual attraction to being scratched and after refusal from a woman he goes and purchases acrylic nails to use on himself. The scene that follows is very sexy and unusual with the combination of a very masculine and dark-haired man wearing French tipped acrylics scratching himself seductively until he bleeds, a mesh of femininity, sexuality and masculinity combined into one. something I had not seen before. Quite enjoyable to watch and certainly uncomfortable in the right ways.

Acousticophilia – directed by Mike Reed. Sexual stimulation or arousal from sounds. We have a scene of a man and a woman’s face combined of two halves listening intensely to what appears to be sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. This scene has some interesting editing between the sounds, changing the face in very trippy ways and certainly made me uncomfortable with the realistic noises being projected to the viewer. Strong attempts at an art installation piece that is not quite my cup of tea but I am sure many would appreciate, especially those that have Acousticophilia.

Lactophilia Directed by Toby Hyder. Another strong and edgy performance by Martin W. Payne, a very dark, twisted and edgy story of sexual attraction to breastfeeding. Martin plays a very creepy, disturbed individual who stalks an unsuspecting victim to satisfy his dark urges. Beautifully shot, very dark undertones and strong implements of violence and murder that even took me by surprise. This film ramped up my rating for this anthology but I wouldn’t recommend it for the feint of heart, delectably disturbing I thoroughly enjoyed Martins performance. Highly recommend.

Necrophilia Directed by Tony Newton, good solid dark fun with some great special effects. As the title implies, we have a male who is attracted to dead bodies and this short film has a very intimate and sexual undertone that I enjoyed.

Pictophilia directed by Steven Longhurst. This film follows the story of an old, perverted man attempting to seduce and meet a 14-year-old through online games. Although a taboo and dark subject the film goes as expected in the beginning. The 14-year-old Susan appears to be quite forthcoming and requires little encouragement to send pictures to the man claiming to be a 24-year-old. The first part of this short film is texts/messages back and forth which draws the viewer in and has a strong start. I found myself getting very attached to the story and seeing where it would lead and although an excellent premise with a good story, I found myself just a tiny bit disappointed at the end. I like what the ending was showing me but I just wanted a bit more from the gore and violence side. I did enjoy it though and it was a fitting end to this anthology.

Overall a fun enjoyable anthology with some really dark and taboo subjects. Worth a watch if you love short films and indie films.

Review by Rachel Simpson


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