Directed by: F. Javier Gutierrez
Running Time: 1 min.
Body Count: 1
There’s not a whole lot you can write in a review of a one minute short. Normally I wouldn’t even try to bring attention to it. But F. Javier Gutierrez, a filmmaker from Spain, has a special talent - he can bring a very bizarre story to life in such a way that seems almost surreal. Norman’s Room is a psychedelic, almost hypnotic glance into Alfred Hitchcock’s Norman Bates, as he skulks about in his room, listening to the mentally induced babble of his literally psycho alter-ego, his mother.
This short is filmed in black and white, as was the original motion picture Psycho. The story opens, and everything is upside down. As it is, we are looking through the eyes of poor ‘ol Norman, getting an idea of what it might have been like to BE him. Lost - not only in his own mind - but in this tragic house he has been born into. Almost as if he were laying upside down on a top bunk, with his head draped over the side, the point of view slowly turns upright, perhaps as Norman gets to his feet. On the other hand, this could also imply the upside-down state of his mind regarding reality. The entire short is filmed in one shot - which slowly begins to focus on the painting across the room. Slowly he approaches it, as in the background, a sound clip is playing - its Norman pretending to be his mother - and it sort of hovers throughout the movie as an insight into his psychotic, mental state of complete illusion.
An ever zooming shot gets closer and closer to the painting by the second, lulling the viewer into a minor trance. When the picture is fully zoomed, we see the artwork on the wall removed, only to reveal a hole busted through the plaster. If you remember Psycho, you’ll recall just how much Norman just loved them. This hole is peering into a bathroom. Inside the bathroom is a murder scene, most likely the infamous shower scene we all remember so well. The view is restricted, and there is blood on the floor. A cadaver's arm is outstretched, reaching for the curtain it had gripped in its last moments of life.
Soon Norman closes his eyes to a mental screech in his head, and the short is finished. Most of the one minute shorts I have seen are more mood pieces than anything else. This was one of the better that I have seen thus far. It actually takes some seconds to put together all the elements and conclude what the short is implying. But the chemistry of it all as its computed by your mind, is on a level that shares your senses, imagination, and memory in perfect balance. Like a canvas splattered with various indistinct shapes and colors, what is not obvious becomes dreamlike, and as an art-critic might see beauty and art in such bits of abstractness, I walked away from Norman’s Room with the same impression.
Final analysis: This is a one minute piece of horror art, more than it a short story. F. Javier Gutierrez has a knack for taking a story and portraying it on screen like a psychedelic, reality obscured bad dream. This is a great piece of work that should be compiled in a collection of quality horror, like Fangoria’s Blood Drive series. His work transcends the typical foreign-film weirdness and comes across crystal clear. Currently Gutierrez is working on his first Spanish feature film “Mute”, which is in development under Vaca Films. His previous work, “Brasil”, is another short (about 20 minutes), that has won some notoriety around the international festival circuit - more recently winning Best Editing at Screamfest 2005 (an award typically given to feature films). Look for a review on “Brasil” in the coming days. Anyone further interested can click over to his website where there is plenty of other detailed info on his past and future works.