POST MORTEM MARY
Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Writer/Director, Joshua Long for allowing me access to an online screener of his 9-minute Horror/Drama short “Post Mortem Mary”. Young Mary (played by Stella Charrington), and her mother Edith (Melanie Zanetti) run an autopsy photography business in 1840’s Australia. The pair visits a small farmhouse, and while her mother consoles a grieving Alice (Kathryn Marquet), a nervous Mary is tasked with making the recently deceased daughter look alive, but things aren’t quite as simple as they appear to be. The film also stars David Breen and Edie Vann.
Post Mortem Mary serves as the fifth short film from Queensland based filmmaker Joshua Long. He’s clearly found a sweet spot in the horror genre, add to that the period piece setting and dramatic undertones here and you’ve got a rather impressive film. DP, Ben Nott (Daybreakers and Predestination) oozes class with his elegant framing and gorgeous cinematography, simultaneously driving the films high production value. There’s a lot of simple but effective shot choices and the color grading suits the look of the era perfectly. The audio track is mixed cleanly and Mary Duong’s foley work is crisp too. The inexperience of composer Jesse Thomas isn’t a factor in Post Mortem Mary. The score builds around droning motifs and woodwind instrument work, reminiscent of the music in Robert Eggers “The Witch”, it’s in keeping with the content on display. All of the acting is of a high standard and Marquet’s emotional outpourings are among the films high points. A special mention goes out to the wardrobe and makeup designs for their respective efforts.
Like me, some may find the basis of Long’s short a little odd. I don’t even know if this sort of thing was a legitimate business back in the day and I have to admit that I questioned the worth of the process. People didn’t have a lot back in those days and given the emotional and monetary roll versus whatever upside it may have had, it begs the question why? Because it just seemed like an additionally upsetting procedure on top of what the family had already experienced. My only real issue was that I found the ending to be rather predictable.
Post Mortem Mary is a damn fine homegrown short film from 2017, made by a fast developing Aussie filmmaker. Nott’s delivers stunning photography, the sound design builds methodically, and the score is quite a memorable one. Makeup and set design are noteworthy and each of the performances is fine. Despite a somewhat predictable ending and an unconventional subject matter, the story still remains intriguing. I’m looking forward to seeing what Long does in 2019. You can check out the teaser trailer below!
My rating for “Post Mortem Mary” is 8.5/10