TIFF15 REVIEW: o negative [2015]

Score: 9/10 | ★ ★ ★ ½

Rating: NR | Runtime: 14 minutes | Release Date: 2015 (Canada)
Studio: Candles are for Burning
Director(s): Steven McCarthy
Writer(s): Steven McCarthy

“Everything okay?”

Sorry, Twilight. Your depiction of love between vampire and human pales in comparison to the uncensored drama of Steven McCarthy‘s o negative. This is the gritty truth of the type of co-dependent relationship such a union is constructed upon—one where morality and humanity is excised completely from matters of life and death. When your lover needs blood to survive you must be willing to forfeit your own existence whether it means feeding them from your vein or playing mother bird by acquiring an outside source and readying it for exsanguination. They are a junkie and you their last line of defense. But as with all pairings of the flesh, going further for them than you’d go for yourself proves an implicit term of the contract.

The short is gorgeously shot by Cabot McNenly with an in-close, on-the-streets vibe of rapidly changing focus from soft to sharp for emotional enhancement. McCarthy himself plays the man willing to go to the depths of Hell for his girlfriend (Alyx Melone), wound up so tight he’s about to burst at any second. The camera captures his silent expressions and body language in accepting his fate, knowing of the prize that awaits him if only he can save her in time. We don’t know how she’s gotten this bad, just that it’s now or never in an expertly languid race against the clock. Too weak to take sustenance from his cut hand, a blood transfusion from vein to mouth is the last ditch effort they need to reset and recharge. Then comes the search for dinner.

What’s great about McCarthy’s depiction is that he doesn’t gloss over the reality of the situation. It’s painted exactly like that of a drug addict and the blindness of love forcing someone to inject poison into their body to save them. It’s about doing the dirty work: whether murder, kidnapping, and theft or merely grunt work like washing blood off the walls post-feeding. We are slaves to those we desire to spend our lives with, caring for them in sickness and health because their wellbeing is the only thing keeping us alive. o negative shares a glimpse at this truth in its most grotesque, horror movie self. There’s no “thank you” necessary when death’s on the line—miracle save resulting from a heinous act or not. We’d do it again every time because love always justifies the means.

Courtesy of TIFF

One Thought to “TIFF15 REVIEW: o negative [2015]”

  1. Richar Teahen

    What a great review.
    Alyx, Steven and Cabot deserve the recognition for such a great Short Film.

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