For Him opens on Her (Kathryn O’Reilly) painting her nails red. There’s something precise and calculated about her movements. Her face is drawn, serious, like she’s preparing for battle. This is war paint to attract a mate. Red symbolising passion and, possibly, something more onerous. Then she grabs an unlabelled bottle of drops.
We cut to Her sitting in a quiet bar, eyes scanning. Him (Jamie Hutchins) takes a seat opposite her. He’s shy but interested. She entices him, stroking her bare knee, sliding her hand up her thigh, staring at him, smiling. He’s too shy so she approaches him and takes a seat. I’m surprised by her outfit – unsexy, shapeless, practical. There is more than meets the eye here.
Her gaze is piercing. She drinks seductively. No words spoken he buys her another drink. Once he’s gone, she hardens, taking the opportunity to spike his drink with the drops. No one around to see, although she doesn’t check. She’s confident in her approach. The audience suspect she’s done this before.
Cut to him passed out on the floor of her place, foaming at the mouth. He is dragged, arm flailing.
We then cut to his body in the bathtub. She draws a sharp knife from underneath, the shriek of metal against tile piercing our ears. Her dress is protected by an apron and she’s wearing gloves. She stabs the body and starts to slice.
Now she’s cooking something raw and fatty on the stove. Then she blends it. Pouring it into a bowl, it resembles liquid bone. She adds blue colouring and another unidentified liquid before pouring it into a wooden box to reveal a solid, blue rectangle. She cuts this into small bars and inhales the scent. Deeply. She’s satisfied.
We see her selling these bars at her stall. There are a variety of smells – lavender, eucalyptus, and her new collection. An unsuspecting couple buy a bar. There are smiles all round.
I loved this horror short. Written and directed by Ian Killick and produced by Anna McNutt, each scene is succinct, simple, and clean. There’s no dialogue, the two actors relying solely on body language and eye contact.
For Him is creepy and gross, but the camera angles are used to shield you from the worst aspects, such as her cutting into his body. It allows your mind to run wild, while for her this is simply a job, a practical aspect of her routine.
It put me in mind of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. Do men have their own scents or is this something she adds in the process? Did she start with her dad? Did he teach her this process? Is he who she does this for?
Running at only 8 minutes long, I watched For Him twice to ensure I picked up on every detail, every nuance, desperate for the answers to these questions but I’m left coming up with my own reasoning for her actions.
I have a habit of sitting through the film credits – appreciating every person who works on a project. I was delighted to see that the creators had done their homework by consulting a Fat Advisor (Susanna Du Mort), presumably on how to make the cooking scene more realistic (don’t try this at home, folks).
There was also a special thanks to P & J Attree Butchers who I suspect may have provided their expertise on cutting up meat. I can only wonder.
For Him is a great little horror, taking advantage of every second, each scene moving the action forward, and making the most of its twisted tale. Many questions are left unanswered, but I guarantee it’ll make men think twice about picking up at a bar. Be good boys.
By Cat Dunn
You can catch For Him at the Unrestricted View Horror Film Festival on Sunday, 1 November as part of ‘Little Terrors 7’
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