The sound of cracking joints is bad enough even when it’s harmless—a sort of reverse ASMR that sends pure discomfort own the spine—and it isn’t even close to harmless in Revenge Story’s inciting incident. Here, that crackling represents a disfiguring chiropractic accident, leaving a ballerina disfigured, and seeking revenge.
With its visceral introduction and its stark black-and-white style, it doesn’t take long for Erin Kim’s 2019 short to get you in its grips. What keeps you hooked, though, is the film’s remarkable pacing. Kim uses split screens, rapid cuts and imaginative transitions to set expectations and defy them at a breakneck pace (sorry). No matter how outlandish the scenario or how much visual information is on the screen at any given time, there’s never any confusion about exactly what’s happening. Subtle movements and changes in framing draw your eye to exactly where it’s needed, letting kim ratchet up the discomfort by the second.
There’s a Wile E. Coyote logic to the way the story unfolds, and Kim’s designs keep the setups clear and the payoffs satisfying. Unlike the ever-resilient Looney Tunes characters, though, Kim’s ballerina carries the increasingly obvious consequences of her misfortune throughout the film, in a cartoonishly exaggerated way. Scene after scene, her attempts at revenge only leave her increasingly bent out of shape, which works as both a ridiculous image and a handy metaphor for the psychological cost of holding a grudge.
As affirming as its moral is, though, Revenge Story isn’t a film you watch for it’s philosophy. Watch it for its squirm-inducing comedy, its dark humour, or its hyper-efficient storytelling instead, and you’ll understand why it was a must for us to show at last year’s GIRAF animation festival.
PS – For more insight into Kim’s creative process, have a look at this interview with Skwigly Magazine.
dir: Erin Kim
syn: A ballerina seeks revenge on the chiropractor who she blames for ruining her career.
Music by Nick Keller
Score Mixing by Jason LaRocca
Sound Design by Nick Ainsworth
Foley Art by Andrea Gard
Foley Mixing by Frank Rinella