What is it about arthropods that freaks us out? Maybe it’s the myriad scuttling legs that click across the floor as they dart from corner to corner in dark places? Maybe it’s the hatching of their eggs as hundreds of creepy horrors emerge in search of food? Maybe it’s their multifaceted eyes watching our every move? Maybe it’s Maybelline.

Whatever it may be, our distaste for the little buggers gave the world The Human Centipede, and now David Barlow-Krelina’s animated short, CATERPILLARPLASTY. While both films may not deal with the actual insects included in their namesakes, both explore the abject horror of the human body taking on aspects of the arthropod form.

Of course, CATERPILLARPLASTY is very different in its approach to The Human Centipede; I only mention that controversial film because of the arthropod connection. The true terror here is the lengths of plastic surgery that people will go to for the perfect “form”. A man with skin pulled tightly across his face and lips pumped into monstrous proportions is led through a sterile cosmetic surgery. He passes by the other patients, their visages warped and distorted, perverted into stretched parodies of the human form. The man is there for the ultimate cosmetic procedure: to release his inner butterfly… literally.

The unsettling character designs are the highlight of CATERPILLARPLASTY. Their faces squeak painfully as they writhe in their surgical chairs. The elastic smiles and unnatural eyes wouldn’t look out of place on the Hollywood red carpet, and that’s the sad truth that the film is commenting on. There are people who actually look like David Barlow-Krelina’s caricatures out there in reality. They’re so vain that they destroy their faces and bodies in search of what they perceive as perfection. Unfortunately, they never ever come out the other side of the surgeries as a beautiful butterfly…

CATERPILLARPLASTY is a surreal, wonderfully designed five minutes that’s guaranteed to make you uncomfortable, and hopefully make you reconsider if you ever think about going under the knife unless it’s absolutely necessary.

CATERPILLARPLASTY was part of the lineup at Fantastic Fest 2018.

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