Conventional full movie review - The silliness of some of the extreme aspects doesn't totally hide a satisfyingly dark heart (SUGGESTIVE SPOILERS)
I'm no Whovian (even though I am currently on season 13 of watching the show from the start) but I have watched the seasons of Doctor Who that Karen Gillan and to be honest only really remember one episode where I thought she gave a really good performance.
Okay a big part of this is down to the material giving her the opportunities to do so, but on the other hand I don't think she is a particularly wonderful actress. Seeing this short film was a surprise then to see her write, direct, and perform in this short film, and for it to be as good as it was.
What was also surprising was that the film almost certainly plays on a seed of truth that Gillan herself must carry from her time on the convention circuit, crossed with that fear of fading away that all celebrities must have. The plot is a horror, and there is some blood and gore in there, but really the main thrust of the film is more chilling in its sense of small time desperation of a starlet fading away. Her lips are puffy from bad cosmetic surgery, her career (or blip) is not going well, and her interaction with horror fans at conventions has no connection to the glamorous red carpet life that all those in the industry seek. Although the narrative does have some blood/gore in it, what makes this film work well is that there is a slightly comedic but very real sense of desperation and of fear of becoming obscure.
Although Gillan is doing very well for herself, I am sure that her prominence in sci-fi roles has meant that some element of exaggerated reality is behind this film ? probably seeing those on the circuit for many years who are known for one role and are seeing their star- power fade away over time? Even if it is total fiction, there is a familiar core here and Gillan does pretty well to bring it out in smaller moments as well as the more extreme. In the end the blood is more chilling as it brings a type of gratitude rather than fear. The more comedic excess doesn't always work, but it is more than balanced out by this dark and quite raw emotion of a woman terrified of obscurity and irrelevance. It is a surprisingly dark and satisfying short film that is much smarter than the 'YouTube horror' that it is presented as.