Slamdance Film Festival Review: THE ORDER OF THE ORCHID (2018)

THE ORDER OF THE ORCHID is a 7 minute short from director Alex Italics about a lonely elderly woman who goes on a psychedelic trip of horror and beauty. This short is definitely more on the experimental side of filmmaking, and though there is a lot of symbolism to be had, I found myself captivated by the colors, music, and the rabbit hole in which our main character finds herself.

The film opens up with our protagonist arriving home after having bought some flowers. As she tries to arrange them, she becomes agitated over her lack of creativity in making these flowers look beautiful. As she becomes more upset, jagged breaks in her thought process show a brief look into another dimension. Having given up on her flower arrangement, she goes into her living room to watch TV, but notices a hooded figure staring at her from outside. Soon after, the woman finds herself in another world surrounded by beauty, color, and otherworldly horrors.

The way I viewed this short was that the world our protagonist was living in was filled with monotony. It was what she was used to and it wasn’t fulfilling her the way that it probably did in the past. Even the flowers and the colors of her apartment have a drab appeal to them and its clear from her frustrations that a part of her has given up. Once the mysterious man shows up, he is able to tap into her creativity and show her all that she has been missing. It’s a vivid, psychedelic trip that reminds me a bit of Lovecraftian mythos, especially when our hooded figure “opens up” our main character so that she can tap into her being.

Once she has seen the beauty of this otherworldly place, she brings it back down to her reality. She has changed from this woman who was bored and unfulfilled to one that is colorful and meaningful. There’s even a hint that this awakening is somewhat sensual in nature. The flowers beat with purpose there is a hazy tone of electric colors swirling about as The Cowsills’ “The Rain, the Park & Other things” plays perfectly to end the short.

Though this wasn’t filled with the horror that one would expect, the fantasy and sci-fi elements make it feel as though something is very much off-kilter. Overall, I found THE ORDER OF THE ORCHID to be extremely intriguing and thought-provoking, as well as beautiful and unsettling. I also really liked that Alex Italics used an elderly woman as the focal point instead of a young person as it had more of an impact on me then if it had been someone in my age range. All in all, this short was definitely unlike anything else I’ve seen at Slamdance and has put director Alex Italics on my radar as I can only imagine what he will come up with next!

Shannon McGrew
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