It’s seldom that a film lives up to its title. In the case of writer/director Christian ‘Kang’ Bachini’s horror short, ESCALATION, he truly aims to redefine the phrase, “That escalated quickly.” Clocking in at an easy 15 minutes (with a feature film adaptation in the works), viewers are taken on a wild ride as we watch an over-the-top narcissist destroy himself onscreen. The more the violence escalates, so does the gore. If you’re a gore fiend, this may be the short for you.

Working off a script co-written by Charlie Cooper, ESCALATION follows Chris. He’s a prick. We gather this based on a phone conversation with a friend, where they discuss the promises he failed to keep. He’s too busy focusing on himself to truly care about anyone else unless they have something to offer him. Once the phone call wraps and the character has been established as one we want to see get annihilated, the chaos begins.

Foreshadowing the violence to come, we watch as Chris prepares food. A horror film casually plays in the background, but not everything is as it seems. No, something is watching him from the other side of the screen, and it has plans for him. A simple possession. Some gory self-harm. What could possibly be the outcome?

Bachini utilizes his stunts background with aplomb. No doubt comparisons will be made to Evil Dead II, especially when breaking down Bachini’s performance in these stunts’ heavy scenes. However, given Bachini’s studies and work overseas, one can see the influence of Jackie Chan and other stunts performance masters in his execution.

Body Horror and Distortion in ESCALATION

Operating as his own cinematographer, Bachini ensures we cannot avoid squirming. Close-up shots of the face or his unfortunate appendages make it nigh impossible to turn away. Brutal body horror and the intensity with which Bachini delivers said horror make a huge impact.

Where things flounder is in the sound mix and the tie into the guilty conscious. The masked killer i.e., the conscious that manifests to taunt Chris is difficult to understand. There’s a distorter used to camouflage the voice but, especially towards the end of the short, it becomes nigh impossible to understand what is being said in the exchange between Chris and the masked entity. So, when we get to those final moments with the big reveal, there’s a question mark as to how we got there due to the issues with the dialogue and sound mix.

Now the tie-in to the conscious. This is a tiny performance note but, before the proverbial gore hits the fan, the guilt Chris feels reads too subtly onscreen. To make the connection easier for audiences to grasp that he is, in fact, talking to his conscious, the guilt-ridden beats could have been dialed up a bit more to make the transition into the conscious hell party more smoothly.

ESCALATION is a wild, self-mutilating ride that serves as a proper showcase for Bachini’s action-oriented talents. A couple of fixes here and there, and it would be an incredibly strong short. Entertaining in its embrace of over-the-top gore, I wouldn’t recommend chopping or eating anything before watching this short.

Sarah Musnicky
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