Short Film Showcase: Spider

“It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.” This warning surely helps in setting the tone for the Australian short film by Blue Tongue Productions, Spider, a work co-written and directed by Nash Edgerton. David Michod is the co-writer on this indie project and the lead actors in the movie are Edgerton, taking on the role of Jack, and Mirra Foulkes, playing Jill.
The film begins with Jack and Jill riding in their car with Jill at the wheel, reprimanding Jack for never taking things seriously. Now, Jack seems like a good hearted bloke who despite being full of beans, evidently loves Jill very much. So when they stop at a gas station, Jack decides to woo Jill with flowers and chocolates, and just to make it all a bit more interesting, a fake spider. As they drive along, Jack’s horsing around seems forgiven until Jill suddenly chances upon the spider and freaks out. The pace picks up here as Jack takes the car’s wheel to avoid a head-on collision with another vehicle and their car screeches to a halt by the side of the road. Jill then jumps out of the car in panic mode while Jack playfully explains to her that the spider was a fake one, throwing it at her to prove his point. Jill is terrorized completely by this and when she steps back, wham – is violently hit by a car. The rest of the sequences cover Jack’s reaction, the paramedics arriving and while the medics are attending to Jill, there’s the final shocker. A medic, while preparing to administer a shot to Jill, lifts her hand, is scared by the spider and as a reflex is up quickly with his hands thrown up, only for the needle to jam Jack squarely in the eye. Phew! So much for a harmless prank!
The names Jack and Jill and the lover’s tiff they have in the car hardly matches up to the tragedy that eventually unfolds in the film and the deliberate playfulness even in the names suggest a measured mix. The contrasting stages in Spider – one, where the lovers quarrel and then playfully make up and the other, where a seemingly harmless prank results in a serious accident – make it all even more interesting. In fact, if it wasn’t for the ominous warning by ‘Mum’ in the beginning of the film and the dark overtures in its cinematography, one would have begun to think this was a romantic comedy with a happy ending!
The stunt of Jill being hit by the car is brilliantly managed and Edgerton’s experience as a professional stuntman comes in handy here. You’ll want to watch the scene over and over again and only after looking at the making of the film would you be able to figure out how it was shot.
One might say that too many spoilers – the warning by ‘Mum’, the name of the film telling you that the spider has a central role to play in it, and the dark overtone throughout even the lighter sequences – weaken the shock value the film could have otherwise delivered. Yet, Spider delivers!