The 2018 Bloody Mary Film Festival continues to impress with the films showcased this year. One that really surprised me was the short film WILD, written and directed by Morgana McKenzie (Ellie, Gifts).
The short film takes place in the 1930’s and follows a young French Canadian girl. She goes to spend the summer on her uncle and older cousin’s farm in Ontario. Between being away from home and being surrounded by English speakers, the young girl is an outsider. One night she comes across a strange being living in her uncle’s cornfield and they form a strong bond, but the being is also dangerous.
WILD does a great job of conveying the plot through the eyes of a young girl. There is a childlike sense of wonder throughout, and also a certain naivety. Any adult who met the strange entity like the one in this short would likely react with fear, shock, violence, or some combination of these emotions. Children are more naïve and can sometimes miss the danger that is right in front of them, which is why this plot works so well. The young girl already feels alone, so why wouldn’t she befriend this strange entity?
The plot is fairly simple, yet there are a lot of elements the audience is expected to simply accept as part of this reality. Surprisingly, it is easy to accept these things. We easily accept there is a supernatural being living in the cornfield, and it has the ability to bring people into a different world. It is simply a fact of the world created in WILD that doesn’t require any further explanation. This shows McKenzie’s strong storytelling skills; she gives the audience enough to grasp what is happening without the need to spell out every minute detail.
The entire small cast of WILD is fantastic. Nève Guénette (Altas World) particularly shines as the young lead, Ida. For such a young character in a short film, Guénette manages to portray many different aspects of Ida’s complex personality. She is sad and lonely in a place where people don’t speak her native tongue, she is exceptionally naïve, and she has a bit of a mischievous side that borders on being malevolent. The closest person to young Ida is her English-speaking cousin, Ben, played by David Dacosta (Killer Mom). Ben is such an endearing character, and the way Dacosta portrays him makes it impossible not to like the guy. Ben is so sweet to Ida and tries his best to make her feel at home, but Ida likely befriends the entity because Ben’s attention is often pulled elsewhere.
The artistry of WILD is breathtaking. Not only did McKenzie take on writing and directing this short film, but she also took on the cinematography and art direction. It is clear from the first few frames that she has an eye for creating visual feasts for the audience. Some of the cinematography is beautiful enough to be frozen and hung on a wall. The color palette adds another layer to the beauty. Most of the film has a somewhat monochromatic look to it where the colors are dulled, which also lends to the 1930’s time period. Then, when the entity comes, there is either vibrant red or blue lights. It makes a clear divide between the real world and the world in which the entity exists.
WILD is a captivating short film with the look and feel of a sinister fairy tale. The fascinating plot affectively conveys the information audiences need to know, without the need to explain everything that is going on. This plot focuses on dynamic characters, specifically Ida and her view of the world she lives in. Guénette portrays Ida perfectly, and the entire cast gives it their all. On top of that, the visual aspects of the film are true works of art. There is no doubt that McKenzie is a master of her craft and knows how to make something that is both compelling and visually bewitching. I expect we will see many great things from her in the future.