TIFF Short Film Review: LATCHED

Sometimes I’m REALLY glad I’m not a woman. Sure, the experience of childbirth and raising your own progeny from the female perspective is a truly beautiful thing, but the idea of something growing inside you, tearing its way out and then feeding on you like a tiny, horrific parasite until it finally grows into an ungrateful teenager that hates you and pretends you don’t know it’s smoking wacky tobacky with its pimple-faced friends behind the school gym is truly the stuff of horror films. I thought that was why director Justin Harding and Rob Brunner decided to make LATCHED – a short that plays on those very fears. Well, at least the feeding parasite part. Turns out I was partially wrong.

LATCHED begins as a mother drives her baby boy out to a secluded island retreat which is surrounded by an expanse of autumn woods. The mother is a member of an experimental dance company, and believes some time away will help inspire her choreography. When she takes her son for a walk in the woods, they come across an odd, small carcass, which the old man next door identifies as a “bat”. She brings the “bat” back to the cottage, which soon grows into something much larger and more vicious, with a taste for an… uh… specific… “brand” of milk.

LATCHED is blessed with appealing cinematography and a delightful musical score (performed by an actual 19-piece orchestra) that morphs into an appropriate creepiness when requried. This is a great looking and sounding short, and the professional nature of the production carries into its creature design and makeup effects.

However, the story is simple – perhaps too simple – and as a viewer without any information about the filmmakers’ intentions, I was left scratching my head as to what they were trying to tell me. With some research, it turns out that this is a “meta-project”, and that the mother and child in the film are actually wife and son of one of the directors, and that the entire thing is a metaphor for her rivalry with a real life fellow professional dancer. Without reading the background story, a viewer is lost, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

With that in mind, LATCHED is definitely worth a viewing for its production value and creepiness alone, but its self-indulgent nature means you shouldn’t expect to leave with any idea of what you just watched unless you’re willing to tap a few names into the old Googles.

LATCHED will be screening on Sunday, September 10, at 9:30pm at the Scotiabank, Cinema 13 and Saturday, September 16, at 6:45pm at the Scotiabank, Cinema 8.

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