People are becoming “too violent, too hateful, too unfeeling. And I’m afraid if we don’t fix this soon, we’ll all become monsters”. With this said, POSIES gives a lot to unearth with a film lasting only ten minutes. On the outside, the directors Katherine Fisher and R.H. Stavis present a minimalist cast with a lovely New Orleans backdrop, but once trimming away the outer layer, underneath we get to peek inside the societal rot and the masks that people wear.
POSIES focuses on the main character of Maddy (Anna Diop) and plot-wise the short follows a couple as they reconnect. The rising action starts with Maddie anticipating the reunion, continues throughout the date, and ends with a surprising climax at Maddy’s house later that night. Yet, the poignancy of POSIES does not come from what we see on the surface, but what is buried below.
While preparing for her date, Maddy overhears a TV in the other room and the program on the screen is what sets the tone for the film. Through a grainy reception, we hear fearmongers discuss the de-evolution of people and how humans will only continue to fail themselves. The yelling participants on the show talk about a modern-day Hitler in the White House and how hatred, previously hidden underneath the surface, has recently burst forward into the public eye. The talking heads point fingers and try placing the blame on particular groups of people, yet the only consensus seems to support the conclusion that deep-down all humans are evil.
Maddy feels revulsion not only with those around her, but with herself as well. She views humans as untamable and attempts to soothe herself by inserting flowers under her skin. With the use of some cringe-worthy practical effects, Maddy stows away flower petals in small cuts which appear on her face, chest, and most disturbingly on her upper thigh. Nature, by definition, represents something humans believe they can tame. So, Maddy uses the petals in an attempt to ground herself as her body appears to decay from the inside. Her date also brings attention to the powerful aroma the petals disperse, which calls back to the days of the Black Plague, and how flowers served as a method to disguise lethal scents. Maddy uses flowers to mask her stench of evilness and the petals also double as a way to protect her from the moral sickness possibly passed on from others. But do these plants purify her? Or merely embolden her?
Becoming part plant allows her to confront others and candidly speak her mind. At the date location, Maddy tries expressing her fears to Jack (Andy Favreau) about the news and the rising levels of hatred present in people, but her straight white companion dismisses her concerns. He does not understand the seriousness of the times because his privilege creates a protective layer of ignorance he can hide behind. However, as a POC female, Maddy does not have the same luxury as her date.
POSIES offers up a bit of plant-related body horror, but at the root of the short film, directors Fisher and Stavis explore the unsettling polarization occurring in America. Not just as a political approach as they demonstrate who feels safe and who doesn’t, but also who falls into the categories of good and evil. With so many ethical discrepancies, determining how to classify a person’s moral standings becomes a blurred state of existence. Maddy recognizes (and even announces) her crimes from the past, but where do these confessions get her? Her attempts to stave off her de-evolution process by purposely infusing herself with plants only take her further away from her intended goal. Because despite the supposed superiority, humans are just meat waiting to eat or be eaten by something (hopefully metaphorically). People fight and claw to the top of the proverbial food chain, but plants will always remain indifferent to a person’s struggles or accomplishments. Because no matter how much humans conquer, in the end, we all become plant food.
POSIES had its World Premiere at the LA Shorts International Film Festival.