SXSW Film Festival Short Film Review: FRY DAY

"One of the things that gives this kind of great high and excitement in stalking and killing is the power to exert over others." - News Reporter's Opening Line from FRY DAY

Back in late January of 1989, there was one name that was widely known throughout American households, and that name was Ted Bundy. His execution had everyone in an uproar, bringing a good five hundred people flocking to the jail's exterior in anticipation. Signs that read, "Bundy BBQ" and, "Tuesday is Fry Day" bounced in the sticky Floridian air like a welcomed homecoming. This gruesome and strange moment in American history gets molded into a dark narrative in Laura Moss's new coming-of-age short film, FRY DAY. The reality behind these truthful events leaves you wondering where the line is drawn between justice and carnage, and when it shifts into the form of acceptable entertainment.  

While taking and selling commemorative photos at the Bundy Barbeque, Lauryn (Jordyn DiNatale) meets a charismatic classmate Keith (Jimi Stanton), who lures her into an unforeseen scenario through the use of polite trickery. With a cutout mask of Ted Bundy's face hanging from the back of her neck, Lauryn quickly realizes that people are not always as they seem, thus beginning her transition into adulthood in response to humanity's underlying dark nature. 

Director Laura Moss touches on many subjects in FRY DAY, with the most prevalent concept being deception. This short film strongly emits deceit, with a direct correlation between serial killer Ted Bundy's charming demeanor and Keith's manipulative intentions. Everyone within FRY DAY participates in the act of duplicity, towards themselves and others, whether through cruel intentions or willful ignorance - from Keith's cohorts to the swarm of people ironically celebrating death, to even Lauryn herself when interacting with the lady at the diner. Every element has a purpose, showcasing great symbolism and tactful writing. 

As a whole, FRY DAY is smart, eerie, and thought-provoking, giving you an up close and personal look behind the figurative masks that everyday people wear. Moss produces these dark elements through the use of great lighting, camera work, and storytelling without depicting a single drop of blood or death sequence, greatly intensifying the film's atmosphere. FRY DAY is right in my wheelhouse, illustrating perfect acting with a creative concept that will most certainly captivate its audiences - it is a short film that you will want to watch several times, and will leave you contemplating after the fact. 

Abigail Braman