Dir. Ann Oren (2022)
A foley artist finds herself growing a horse tail.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Foley artist means… something entirely different in the healthcare field than it does in moviemaking. That being said, the world within the filmmaking process of sound creation is fascinating, a topic that is rarely discussed outside of those circles and yet crucial to our relationship with the entire medium of film. So many films are absolutely wrecked by bad sound design, and so many sound effects have become consolidated with our understanding of the meaning of movies. The well-known story of John Carpenter’s initial hatred for Halloween before a score was added is evident of this fact, and his seminal classic is but one of the countless films that are inseparable from their sound. Piaffe, the new film from visual artist Ann Oren, explores this bizarre and disconcerting world with the style of Argento and the avant-garde visual flair of Andy Warhol.
Eva (Simone Bucio) has taken over for her non-binary sibling Zara (Simon[e] Jaikiriuma Paetau), who has recently had a mental breakdown, as the foley artist for an antidepressant commercial. Her new boss, who looks a bit like a blonde version of Will Ferrell’s bizarre boutique owner Jeffrey on SNL, is a douchebag, insulting his new artist’s abilities by comparing her efforts to that of a machine rather than a human. Little does he know that Eva will soon be going through her own inhuman experience, as her side effects from taking Equili, the antidepressant for whose commercial she performed foley work, cause her to grow a horse tail. This causes a sexual awakening within the normally-reserved Eva, forming the backdrop for this erotic body horror with shades of Secretary.
Piaffe, which is an equestrian term that basically means a horse marching in place, is an appropriate name for the film. As odd and sexually-charged as the film is, it does at times plod along like its namesake, marching in place to the beat of its own drum without ever seeming to go anywhere. It’s a bizarre movie, one that draws as many comparisons to art as it does film. It has its moments of erotic bliss while having enough “what the fuck” that it will please Cronenberg fans as well. It’s an exploration of kink, gender, and sound, all wrapped into a relatively short and delightfully strange package. Director Ann Oren is a visual artist, and Piaffe is a spectacle combining her love for aesthetic and the all-encompassing world of sound. While the story may not be wide-reaching, it is within the confines (or lack thereof) of art that the film truly shines, a bizarre and erotic journey into the strangest drug side effect ever
Who this movie is for: Erotic horror fans, Body horror lovers, Equestrians
Bottom line: Weird and sensual is an odd way to describe a film, but it’s an apt description for Piaffe. This is one that won’t reach a wide audience, but for fans of odd movies with an artistic flare, it will undoubtably be a hit. It’s a bizarre combination of many different themes, among them sexuality, gender, and control, and it’s an intriguing dissection of each. I wouldn’t recommend this one to just anyone, but if it sounds like it may be your bag, definitely give it a shot