Wednesday, September 21, 2011
The Melancholy Fantastic
What would have happened if Norman Bates' mother had killed herself after Norman's father had died, instead of taking up with a series of grifters? Would Norman have become Melanie Crow? The Filmfreak Mafia's interpretation of The Melancholy Fantastic would say yes.
Written and directed by A.D. Calvo, The Melancholy Fantastic shows Melanie's journey as she grieves for her mother who committed suicide right before Christmas. Melanie's grief finds solace in a doll with a mannequin head and shoulders, and sewn together arms, legs and torso, making the doll look like a cross between an anorexic model and a muppet. Melanie keeps the doll with her every where she goes for company. At first Melanie speaks for the doll, just so she can hear another voice in the silence of the house, but over time the she hears her mother's voice coming from the doll.
Unlike Norman Bates, Melanie's affinity for making dolls has caught the eye of her former high school classmate Dukken (Danish for doll) which inspires Melanie to make a doll for Dukken. Melanie runs into another high school classmate, Kenny, who works at the local convince store and becomes her supplier of Hostess Sno Balls.
Eventually with the help of Dukken, Melanie weans herself off of the mother doll by burning her in a field, and of Dukken as well, by stabbing him in the kitchen with a knife (much like the one Norman Bates used to kill Marion Crane). Melanie's final release of the pain washes away in the shower as Dukken's blood washes off of her (in a scene reminiscent of the shower scene in Psycho). But the final twist that makes this a true successor to psycho, seeing a tattered doll in clothes like Dukken's in the kitchen where he had fallen.
In its final scenes, several questions about perceptions of the grieving mind come to light. Was Melanie really hearing her mother's voice from the doll? Was Dukken simply Melanie's memory of Kenny from high school she had projected onto the other doll? Would Norman Bates have turned out very differently has he been interested doll making and not taxidermy?
The Melancholy Fantastic is a film that provides its audience with not only a homage to Psycho, but a cinematic journey in which the story grips you and does not let go until the final moments and fades to black. Thank you Maelstrom International Fantastic Film Festival (MIFFF) for bringing this film to the 2011 festival.