Let’s start January off with a double feature – two very different short films with similar titles.
It’s been a while since we covered some short films here on Deluxe Video Online, so I decided to jump back into it with both feet. Looking for something new, I grabbed a recent arrival on Amazon Prime, Blooming Lion. As it didn’t exactly grow on me, I also picked out a recent short horror film from streaming curator, Alter, In Full Bloom. Luckily that film had stronger roots.
Blooming Lion (2021)
After failing to hide her secret about being a contender, Jen (Bria Lockhart) must step up and face her jobless controlling father (Desmond Huey) in the ring in order to win her independence and freedom.
Beat to the Punch.
Blooming Lion suffers from a major flaw that manages to infect the acting, dialogue and plot: it loves to jump the gun. Characters constantly rush to a forgone conclusion without going through the buildup that justifies such an outburst. Every interaction between Jen and her Dad is two innocuous sentences and a sudden explosion of anger. The story also loves to cut corners by jumping right to the next, often illogical, plot beat.
Director Shawn Khounphithack wants Blooming Lion to have a positive message about independence and female empowerment but gets at it in truly shocking ways. Jen’s trainer jumps to some really aggressive conclusions upon meeting Jen’s dad and insanely eggs him into a boxing match with Jen. WTF lady!
There is absolutely no good resolutions that could come of this. Either he, a grown ass man in not-terrible shape, gets lucky and catches her with a punch (which he is rightly very much aghast at the prospect of), or she uses her training to thrash her own dad, who is a very flawed man but not one we’ve seen deserving of an ass whipping. When the latter happens, Jen and her trainer have a really unearned moment…while her old man is still face down on the canvas. Yeah, don’t check to see if he’s got a concussion or is swallowing his tongue, just go ahead and hug it out while he bleeds into his brain-pan.
This film is poorly made and stuffed to the brim with bad ideas. Somebody should have DQ’ed this match before it ever began.
In Full Bloom (2020)
The surreal manifestation of a black hole within a woman’s home impels an agoraphobic widow (Kieu Chinh) to make a difficult choice.
The Little Things
I like short films that manage to tell their story without dialogue or preface. We get the story just from what the director shows and the actors convey. Here, we get a pretty complex story about grief, social isolation, and agoraphobia all presented with incredibly subtle detail.
Compare and Contrast.
Director Maegan Houang evokes the subtlety of the human story by setting it against the outrageous nature of the science fiction elements. While the effects are a bit weak, they’re weird and wild enough to really provide a stark contrast to the haunting personal elements, and I appreciate the dedication to using practical effects. It’s a bit like a classic episode of The Twilight Zone, where an over-the-top sci-fi trope is used to foreground a universal truth about the human experience. It’s very well done, well acted, and a haunting drama.