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  • Rev Horror


Dir. Alfredo Tanaka (2014)

Marie desires to change her appearance to draw in a man she wishes to have for her own.

Beauty standards are a hot topic nowadays, as television and print media has come under fire for their continuous attempts to reinforce a harmful stereotype that forces women to compare themselves to the faces and bodies that they seen in magazines. The rise of eating disorders, self harm behaviors, and plastic surgery has given way to multiple generations of women who hate themselves and the way they look, some of whom will stop at nothing to achieve these unattainable results. While the pushback has come strong and steady from groups that are attempting to change this, it takes but a glance at your favorite television show or Hollywood movie to realize that nothing has actually changed, and that certain aspects of it have gotten even worse. Men are also subject to this brainwashing, and the male gaze has been continually focused on a certain type of women, where even terminology like "curvy" or "thick," in reality, means nothing of the sort.

It is within this world of unrealistic expectations that Alfredo Tanaka's 2014 short film Marie is set. The film opens as Marie, the title character played by Kasia Koleczek, lays on the operating table, ready to undergo a procedure that will make her look as beautiful as she desires to be. Her world is populated by two types of people: the regular people, the world in which Marie belongs, and a bizarre animal-faced group of people that represents the real beautiful people in her society. She seeks to be transformed into this other class of person, looking to attain her own horse face so that she can draw the attention of the surgeon that will be performing her operation. She puts her own life in jeopardy, risking a 60% mortality rate in order to look the way that she desires to look. Once it is done and her look is transformed, she finds that not everyone desires for their potential mate to look like themselves.

There's a lot to be dissected here, and the societal import of a film like this cannot be overstated. These beauty standards are toxic and, more often than not, not even desirable. Of course, the cycle does run deep, and there are millions of people around the world who refuse to be attracted to those who don't look like the most famous movie stars or the people on the cover of Playboy. But for everyone who refuses to settle for anything less than a porn star, there are millions more who aren't looking for the skinny model or the perfectly sculpted abs of a fitness guru. The noxious but extremely virulent line of thinking that results from this inundation with beauty remains, however, and films like Marie are a step towards examining and rebuking this horrific ethos.

Beyond it's critique of society, Marie is also gorgeously shot and very well acted. Koleczek and Damien Hughes, who plays the doctor in the short, do a fine job in their roles, and the cinematography is absolutely gorgeous, having been shot on a RED camera. There's a lot of eye for detail here, the long lingering shots mixed with skewed camera angles that bring a lot more interest than just in what's being shown on the screen. The timeline is taut, running a mere seven minutes and making a quite profound point in that short amount of time. While you've perhaps seen this plot in reverse in an old Twilight Zone episode, it's even more fitting in this day and age than it was then.

While this short was filmed in 2014, it's just now being released to a wider audience. It's intriguing, though I wouldn't necessarily call it a must-see. The short runtime definitely lifts its value, and the unique and gorgeous cinematography, along with the good-enough acting, make it one that you'll want to check out if you get the chance. It's available on YouTube now, and I'll include the link below.

Who this movie is for: Short film lovers, Animals-as-people fans, Beauty influencers

Bottom line: While it would be easy to dismiss this one as a photocopy of Rod Serling's classic Eye of the Beholder episode of The Twilight Zone, it's so much more than that in an age of damaging beauty standards and overwhelming social media. Marie has a point to make and it makes it well, delivering quite a punch in such a small runtime. If you get a chance to check this one out, I definitely recommend that you do so, if only for the impressive animal mask effects. It's on Youtube, so check it out.

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