Devil's Playthings
MEDEA. 2003

Director: Daniel Strange

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Devil's Playthings One of the coolest most artful films I ever stumbled upon on youtube was Daniel Strange's Medea (2003).

Besides at the youtube page (link provided below), Medea is also available at Dan Strange's "my space" page. It premiered in England in 2003. It's eight minutes six seconds long.

Filmed around Soho with 16 mm camera assistance from James Moloney, it is processed to look like a classic German Expressionist silent film or a work by Guy Maddin, mostly in black & white, with a compelling & genuinely frightening soundtrack of great beauty & weirdness.

A young man wanders amidst leaning towering cityscapes becoming increasingly frightened. He's pursued by a screaming face, encounters a bound man, & becomes himself if not a member of the living dead then at least the frightened dead. The film conveys paranoia about the urban landscape itself, with the very buildings coming alive to threaten the alienated protagonist.

It has a clever horror climax that almost begs to a plot, but the strength of the piece isn't the story. It's the surreality of the nightmare as a perfect visually sustained mood. This is horror of a modern sort even though conveyed in the mode of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). It is alarming to think that a short-film artist of this quality should be so little known even to afficionados.

Daniel Strange's music video for The Irrepressibles is The Boy in the Lake (2006). It begins with much the same mood & sound as his awesome Medea, but this soundtrack quickly gives way to the titular song, a haunting, faggy, crazy tune that is certainly a worthwhile alternative-rock sort of work, about halfway between Anthony & the Johnsons, & a poetic song pressed out of a tortured cat.

Devil's PlaythingsThe visuals have a certain Victorian-baroque beauty, but warped & otherworldly, like a band from Dimension X. The film's color pallet is like a metalic rainbow gem.

Of least consequence but still pretty good is Devil's Plaything (2001), under two minutes, a filmed arrangement of smiling plastic toys the cuteness of which exceeds all sanity. They are lined up like soldiers, to the sound of Tchaikovski's Sugar Plum Fairies, & the one with a black suit painted on speaks like Hitler.

It's a minor jest that would make no impression except in the context of the same artist having made Medea, though by no means an embarrassment when in the future a "Complete Short Films of Daniel Strange" is issued on dvd.

If the following links are ever dead, I hope someone will e-mail me & let me know, as youtube pages frequently vanish never to be seen again:

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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