It’s an amazing and wonderful thing to watch your filmmaking friends continue to grow with each new work. Longtime friend (and sometimes site contributor) Andrea Wolanin has followed up her scifi domestic horror Penta with the chilling home invasion short Cleaning House. For her third short film, Wolanin refines her comic chops while still subverting domestic norms as she has with her first two efforts.
Claude and Chuck (Nicole Marie Dessignue and Jackie Fabian respectively) smile excitedly for the camera moments before they embark on their next adventure cleaning house. Their sheer exuberance is the first cue that some thing is amiss as no one in the collective scope of human history has ever been so enthused about doing house work.
When we see the women “get to work” we’re clued in that something is very amiss. There’s something about the sight of strangers rummaging through the personal possessions of others that strikes a terrifying chord. Claude and Chuck swat away the idea that your home represents a safe haven where you can shut out the outside world’s troubles. Before long the two women are tearing through the closets, treating one another to melodramatic readings from a found diary and preparing a luxurious bubble bath for one another. Dessignue and Fabian bounce off one another well, with the former carrying herself with a stern, no nonsense demeanor while Fabian comports herself with the impish glee of a game show host trapped in an adolescent’s body. The two paired together manage to come up with some wickedly funny moments before the chilling reveal.
There’s an undercurrent of millennial rejection of suburban norms that runs through Wolanin’s work and that continues with Cleaning House. Her past themes have played with the notions on how the banality of cubicle life can drive a man to murder and how dogmatic clinging to gender norms perpetuates a cycle of violence that gets passed down as learned behavior. That trend continues here as Claude and Chuck’s break in spree subverts the idea about settling down and laying roots in one area. The two women are sharks who swim from one suburban home to the next, only to leave havoc and spilled blood in their wake. Through each of her works Wolanin has posited that the long cited American Dream that states hard work and good behavior will pay off has crumbled to meaninglessness. Through horror, she explores how the bill for cushy living has come due for the current crop of twenty somethings after decades of being built at the expense of women, minorities and other marginalized members of society.
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, I count Ms. Wolanin among my dearest friends. That said, I have a long standing policy against reviewing or promoting work my peers unless it has merit and deserves a wider audience. Andrea is one of the more exciting and promising filmmakers working in New England and Cleaning House marks another step in her progress. The short makes its world premiere as part of the Homegrown Horror block at the Boston Underground Film Festival on Thursday, March 24th at 5:45pm. For tickets, lineup and other scheduling information go to www.bostonunderground.org.