Review: ‘I Baked Him a Cake,’ A Macabre & Gorgeous Short Film
By: J. Carlos Menjivar
Director Vanessa Ionta Wright’s (The Rainy Season) I Baked Him a Cake is about a little girl, Lenora (Lillian Gray), and her hopes of celebrating her father’s birthday with a homemade birthday cake. Here’s the thing… her father’s not home yet and her mom is acting strangely.
Unbeknownst to the young girl, her Mother (Fleece) has other plans for her father, moving about the house within the corners of her daughter’s life. We, the audience, can decipher what is going on contextually but for Lenora there doesn’t appear to be anything wrong on this special day. To Lenora it is simply her father’s birthday and she dutifully carries on drawing a birthday card for her father and baking him a cake. Even when Lenora comes across a bloodied bathroom (pictured below), her mother explains that it’s that time of the month again.
The talent involved in I Baked Him a Cake is astounding featuring striking and opulent cinematography from Henrik A. Meyer with a driving and eerie score by former Collective Soul lead guitarist Ross Childress. Wright’s direction is precise and masterfully executed bringing a sense of artfulness to the horror genre. Moments of beauty and tenderness are assaulted by the dark implications that surround Lenora’s life. A perfect example of this is the film’s opening sequence, which transpires in shadow, and then cuts away to a bloody aftermath in the home’s bathroom, before cutting away to scenes of Lenora within the safety of her own home– drawing and baking. The film is seldom excessive yet there is something macabre about Wright’s film, feeling like something that lies between Edgar Allen Poe and shades of Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels.
I Baked Him a Cake is based on the short story by Samantha Kolesnik which appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of Hypnos Magazine. Kolesnik and Wright have collaborated on the Stephen King adaptation of The Rainy Season, a short film that is currently making its run on the festival circuit. Both are co-founders of the Women in Horror Film Festival (click the link for more information).
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Keep the Fear Alive!