Shaye Saint John: The Triggers (Short Films)
Dir. Eric Fournier, various years, various lengths
My brain hurts so much right now, because I've just watched 20 or so short films by Shaye Saint John, many of which make up the collection 'Triggers'. I don't know what these are supposed to trigger other than a complete sense of disorientation or a suspicion that you have completely lost your mind in record time.
Shaye Saint John is a cult creation of Eric Fournier's, a supermodel who was horribly disfigured in a train accident and has proceeded to rebuild herself out of mannequin parts. Her only companion is her doll, Kiki, and from this simple-appearing set-up we have a wealth of super-short films, some of which weigh in at less than a minute whilst others climb to the giddy heights of four minutes or more.
Honestly, it's a relief that none of them are any longer than that, because these pieces make up a montage from the very depths of hell. Saint John herself look so bizarre from the very get go, with plastic legs, an array of outrageous costumes and a mask covering her face that looks alarmingly real at first glance then repellently fake when you study it more closely. It's hard to really do justice to what this is all about – the whole tone is so psychedelic, the cuts are very sudden, the filming effects are disconcerting (surely by design) and the sound is either simply unbearable music or the ramblings of Saint John, who has surely the strangest voice ever heard to man.
That's about as best as I can sum it up, but I doubt there's anything I can truly put on paper to convey the utter insanity that is presented here. This is the medium at its most baffling and confusing.
And yet, with all that said, I can't honestly say I disliked the work of Shaye Saint John. There were some nice touches of humour, you were constantly guessing what would be next in the breathlessly paced series of vignettes, and visually there was never a dull moment. What quite possibly disconcerted me the most was that by the end of all these short films I was starting to get it, to tune into this utterly bizarre wavelength that I had been trying to engage with. I wonder if the work of Saint John has what I call the 'Adult Swim effect' – at first it just seems blatantly odd and potentially unwatchable, but the more you watch it the more you come to love it, until you're an absolute addict before you know it.
So for now I've had my fill of the almost indescribable antics of Shaye Saint John, but something deep down tells me I'll be back one day...
RATING 7/10. To be honest, two or three utterly weird shorts in I was ready to give this a very low rating indeed. But it's somehow compelling viewing in its own explicable way, and has a manic sort of energy that is likeable if not always comfortable. Maybe after so many of these short shorts you simply get hooked... so it's a pretty respectable 7/10 from me. Just brace yourself for crazy...
(The shorts watched were BalloonGoon, Skin Tape, Twenty4Seven and Twenty4Seven Redux, What's Wrong with Shaye's Legs, Burger Money, Leglifts, 3 Holed Trainables, Jewels, Switchboard, Beeper, Kitty Candy, Blasting Caps, Dolly ICU, Shaye's Hollywood Secrets, Stumpwater Salad, Come 2 My Party and Drip Drop Diet)
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