‘Flesh Computer’ Short Film Review

When a film is described as being “Cronenberg-esque”, you know you’re in for some pretty messed up stuff.  Or, at least, you hope you are.  “Flesh Computer” is a short film which sets out to blend heavy philosophical concepts with icky practical effects. It’s a pairing of ideas that seems perfect for the Cronenberg comparison, but does it manage to live up to it?

The short film features a narration from philosopher David Chalmers as he waxes philosophically about the human conscious and its limits.  This serves as the background soundtrack that underlines the main action of the film which centers on an apartment handyman who is building some sort of computer/human hybrid in his room.  Hence the title “Flesh Computer.”

Sometimes injecting philosophy into your film can have the unintended consequence of sending eyeballs rolling into the back of their heads, but writer/director Ethan Shaftel does an excellent job of taking a potentially heavy concept and turning it into a digestible chunk suitable for a short film.  The action and narration serve as excellent companion pieces that give the short film an excellent fluidity.  Imagine scenes with a slimy sack of meat while a narrator drones on about the limits of the human mind, it would be easy for something like that to feel disjointed, but it all melds together nicely.

Except for one detail, the inclusion of a little girl and her sleeping father.  I found their placement in the short unnecessary as they serve no greater purpose to the overall plot of the short.  The main thing they have going for them is that they have the TV on which is playing the Chalmers narration.  Otherwise, their scenes could have been removed and the short would’ve had a tighter feeling to it.

As for the practical effects, there are a handful of gross details that work well for what’s needed in the story.  You won’t be reaching for the vomit bag, but it’s enough to make you feel repulsed at the idea of someone touching a pulsating skin bag with a slimy mouth.  Also, everything has a very grimy aesthetic to it that makes you want to wash your hands after.  The effects won’t blow you away, but they do serve the story and that is what’s most important.  The only detraction I found was the CGI used for a fly being squished.  Once again, this was tied to the little girl and her father and I felt the short would’ve been better without it.

Overall this is a promising piece of work with impressive visual flair, so I look forward to seeing future projects from the creative talents involved in the production.  For more information on the short, be sure to visit their official site here.  You can also watch the film for yourself down below.

FLESH COMPUTER from Ethan Shaftel on Vimeo.


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