15 minute short film, written and directed by Steven Baker
Reviewed by Charlie Stone
Genres with longevity have popularity peaks and troughs. Zombies have almost survived their fourth major film spike, but the thoroughly desensitised fans of this cycle need more than just convincingly gooey splatter. They crave subtlety.
A Love Story’s appeal lies in its irony and restraint. Lead actress Kate Vox plays it strong and clever, neither intimidated by her undead husband nor seduced by his even less dead ghost. The queasy loneliness of her world is exaggerated by an evocatively desolate (Thames Valley) landscape and the fact that the last few survivors are leaving it to her. Details run seamlessly together, from the clear-dripping tap and red-dripping meat safe to the wedding rings they both retain. She knows he still wants her in his own sick way. She dutifully prepares her lover’s breakfast while wishing she could plan better for the inevitable separation instead of merely postponing it.
She probably knows the leash tying her husband to the tree will eventually rot. She certainly seems focused enough when it does.
Every frame of the final confrontation is cleverly sequenced, full of perfect trailer moments but leaving room for an ending of real poignancy. Nothing grates, nothing cloys. Steven Baker has honed a gem of scary and touching simplicity. He hopes it will please competition and festival audiences in both hemispheres but has especially high hopes for Austin, that Texan city of counter culture whose “Keep It Weird” slogan suggests a natural fit. He claims he’s “no good at the schmoozing side of things” but would you trust a zombie movie director who was? Aficionados of this genre prefer misanthropic dedication to slick industry patter. We’ve already seen zombies packaged and franchised this time around.
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