We take a look at the short film library from the director of Marvel’s new hit series, Loki.
As is tradition here, when a new film or series really blows us away, we like to dive deep into the filmography of the people responsible. As most of the cast of Loki are known commodities, I wanted to look at the director, Kate Herron, behind the phenomenal series (episode 2 is just as good as the first episode, so my recommendation still stands!) It was an added bonus that Herron is a prolific maker of short films, a form near and dear to our hearts here at Deluxe Video Online. Here are three of her shorts that caught our attention.
Run Toward Them (2012)
When a young man’s wife is chosen for ascension, a propaganda-fuelled means to control overpopulation, he decides to challenge the oppressors no matter how futile his actions may be.
This is a fascinating short, both in its genesis and execution. Part of a 48-hour film challenge, the filmakers were tasked with creating a short based on three prompts: a title, a line of dialogue, and a prop. From these, we get a pretty bleak and taut sci-fi story about “benevolent” aliens who help alleviate the population crisis by taking people (allegedly to their utopian homeworld). The catch is that you can’t say no. When our protagonist discovers his wife has been ascended, he hires a hacker to change his status from normal to marked for ascension too.
It’s a lot to get out in the open in just four minutes and change. The acting is strong, conveying a lot of the emotional cues that show that this solution is not something the recipients necessarily look forward to. There’s a ton of twists that the story could take: does he get his name on the list in a bid to reunite with his wife? Does he just want closure? Revenge? Why did she hide her status from him? The tight scripting and pacing, along with an eye for telling details make Run Toward Them a gripping little drama with lots of big implications.
Rest Stop (2014)
A comedy about Meredith, a young backpacker desperate to find meaning in her life, who meets a man in a road side service station…claiming to know her.
Rest Stop is the short that made me see why Herron was the perfect pick to direct Loki. There’s so much that’s unreliable about our characters and situation, and Herron constantly keeps you guessing with ambiguity, double-meanings, and psychological manipulation. The man in the diner could have been a template for making a small-screen Loki, with his grandiose claims, disarming charm, ruthlessness and sang froid. He’s paired against an interesting foil in Meredith, an ostensibly easy mark whose capricious nature makes her unpredictable, forcing him to adapt on the fly to achieve his goals. Overall, a fun and devilish short.
Chloe thinks she’s just going in for a routine test. Things do not go as planned.
Smear is a fun and furious short, clocking in at a svelte four minutes. It sounds like an oxymoron to say it’s a body-horror comedy, but it winds up playing those two elements off each other to great effect. Not only is it funny and gross, it interrogates why women’s reproductive health is such a taboo. If we mince around discussing gynecological exams like we’re avoiding something monstrous, why not make it actually monstrous? Sophia Di Martino does a fantastic job of being nervous, embarrassed, horrified, and exhausted by the events, reminding me of Kristen Wiig. A fun romp with some real teeth.
Quite a bit of Kate Herron’s work, both as a director and writer, is available for viewing on her website. If these films grab your attention, give it a visit, it’s well worth your time.