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Renae Ayriz

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From Renae Ayriz Created On 19 September 2018
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THE SHIFT from Francesco Calabrese
1964. An ordinary day turns out to be anything but, when Joe comes home to find out that his wife Betty hasn’t been cooking dinner. And there’s a very good reason for that.  Francesco Calabrese galvanizes his reputation as one of the most exciting directors on the scene with this stylish short film. Having grabbed our attention with documentary-styled Horror Lovely Monster back in 2012, before taking us on a journey through a terrifying gang initiation process in 2013′s I Killer, this time Calabrese serves us a retro-styled slice of Americana, with a science-fiction twist.  “I will never have sex with you, or cook you dinner, or clean after you again”

*** SPOILER WARNING ***
Introducing us to his on-screen world as his protagonist Joe arrives home at his picture-perfect house, complete with white picket fence and rose bushes out-front, Calabrese shatters his vision of suburbia just as quickly as he establishes it. With Joe’s wife Betty sternly informing her husband that she will no longer be carrying out her household (and bedroom) duties, it feels for a minute as if the director might be presenting us with a social drama about a stereotypical 1960′s housewife looking to break free from the chains of domestic life. However, with snippets of dialogue suggesting things may not be exactly as they seem, anyone familiar with the The Stepford Wives or Invasion of the Body Snatchers narratives will start to suspect something a little more sinister is occurring.

Despite its intriguing narrative, where The Shift really excels is in its vivid production design. Calabrese and his team have left no stone unturned when it came to recreating this nostalgic vision of seemingly domestic bliss. The location, the costumes, the cars, the color grade and even the titles all working together to create the well-considered esthetic of the piece.  Although the narrative of The Shift does feel somewhat familiar, it’s a storyline usually associated with feature length productions and Calabrese’s brief glimpse into this universe is one that leaves you hungry for more. It’s a short that never tries to answer too many questions and even as the credits roll and we witness Joe and his “wife” exiting their house together, a few shared glances leave us wondering what’s next for this world and its new inhabitants. Playfully teasing us with the closing title ‘The End?’, over the image of a blank page in typewriter, is Calabrese suggesting there will be more from this universe or is he challenging us, the viewers, to fill in the blanks ourselves?
THE SHIFT
Written, Directed & Edited by Francesco Calabrese
with Molly C. Quinn, Ryan Welsh & Whitney Hoy
Produced by Eppich Films & Withstand
in association with Durable Goods
Dop // Patrick Jones
Costumes // Suzy Sachs
Production Design // Ricardo Jattan
Music // Mark Yaeger
Sound // Erik D. Magnus
Post // Proxima Milano

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