Chris is on a high: he just got engaged and has just made the biggest deal of his life. He wants to celebrate it by taking a trip down memory lane and revisits the bar where he made his first deal. But his ebullient mood is dragged down when he notices the other only customer there, Barry.
Barry’s in a dark, depressed mood and Chris takes it upon himself to cheer Barry up and help solve his problems. But Barry’s problem is a strange one: he has a truly original idea. But whenever he shares it… bad things happen. But Chris doesn’t believe Barry and is determined to prove him wrong.
Written and directed by N’cee Van Heerden, this clever, witty horror short takes the notion that there are no new truly original ideas and twists it into a deeply entertaining, compelling storytelling experience. Told with great polish and verve, it takes some time to set up its story. But once it gets going, it unravels its fascinating premise with cheeky self-assurance.
The film begins amiably enough, in the ambiance of a relaxing tiki bar, lit with the slick gleam of the modern Hollywood milieu and dynamic camerawork and movement. As Chris draws Barry out and Barry’s story unfolds, the storytelling goes into classic horror territory, but it visually maintains a sense of a heightened, slightly stylized world.
There is gore aplenty — though nothing is super-graphic — but this horror story is less about creatures and darkness. Instead, it maintains the energy and playfulness of a comedy in the editing, pacing and performances, with a rhythm and sensibility of a great (but gruesome) yarn.
The storytelling builds up suspense, raising the question of what exactly Barry’s idea is and building up Chris’s skepticism of Barry’s story. As the story jauntily approaches its climax with a cheeky, almost operatic sense of drama, it barrels towards a standoff — one that ends in the biggest irony of all.
“O.I.” is great fun, taking the classic narrative structure of a contagious curse and applying it in unexpected ways. It’s also a story that is aware of the film’s ultimate irony: for a story about the lack of originality, the idea itself is quite original, or at least very fresh, especially for a genre where its ardent fans love its conventions and rules. Maybe it’s not quite mind-blowingly original — but we might not be able to handle that much genius in the first place.