Watch: Darkly Funny and Gnarly Cronenberg-Style Short 'Valibation'
by Ethan Anderton
February 26, 2013
Director Todd Strauss-Schulson made his feature film debut with A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas in 2011, but before that he was behind plenty of short films, especially comedies. Well, today the filmmaker debuted his short film endeavor Valibation, and it's not what we expected at all. Written, directed and edited by Straus-Schulson, the film is a dark comedy, twisted in the DNA of the films of 80s David Cronenberg, but with the contemporary story of a man far too attached to his iPhone and social media that it becomes a part of him...literally. It's NSFW because of some nudity and graphic shots, but this is a stylish, provoking short film that you would not expect from a filmmaker who directed a holiday stoner comedy.
Here's what Strauss-Schulson told us about the inception of Valibation:
"I'm addicted to my cell phone. I'm on it all the time. Why? Why am I on Instagram all day? Why do I have a reflex to grab my phone the second someone gets up from a table at dinner. Why do I care if someone retweets me... What is that?
I don't have the answer, but it seemed like an interesting and, hopefully, relatable issue to dive into with this new short.
I wanted to make something that had the ecology of a nightmare but made you laugh, was stylish but personal, that asked questions that I grapple with and attempted, in some way, to work out an answer.
It was really exciting to try some new stuff, challenge myself and take some risks with this one and I hope you all like it as much as I liked making it. Oh, and retweet the link if you like it. No, seriously."
The film is not subtle by any means, and you can see that nod to Cronenberg right from the beginning as our main character watches The Fly. But there's also flares of Scanners and Videodrome, but with a pinch of the brand of humor you wouldn't necessarily expect to find in those films. The special effects by Ingenuity Engine and Gloo Studios are impressive as hell, and Strauss-Schulson's visual style and tone makes me hope a studio hands him some kind of sci-fi film in the near future. Honestly, this feels like the kind of film Strauss-Schulson has wanted to make for awhile, and his work on A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas has flares of visual and genre blending elements which shine more brightly in Valibation. It's almost as if there was something lingering within this filmmaker that was just waiting for the right opportunity to blossom and blow our minds. Excited to see what he sinks his teeth into next.
Speaking of which, Todd has some more projects in the works like Final Girls, a feature film described as Friday the 13th meets Back to the Future. The story begins with a girl grieving the loss of her mother, a well-known scream queen of the 1980's, not unlike a young Jamie Lee Curtis, but takes a sudden turn when the girl and her friends are mysteriously sucked into the world of the mother's most famous horror movie where she is reunited with her Mom but must also face the film's diabolical killer. After seeing Valibation, I can't wait to see what he does with that project. Plus there's an adaptation of Rascal Raccoon on the way and a Brazilian adventure comedy set up at New Line which has a lot of buzz in Hollywood at the moment. For more updates and musings, just follow Todd Strauss-Schulson on Twitter: @TheRealTSS. Thoughts?