It’s a little jarring to go from a woman trapped in a full-body girdle to an animated pile of feces giving birth in an alleyway; throw in some really dark suspense involving necrophilia and an insane fairytale from Funny or Die‘s Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, and you’ve got an idea of what the Short Program served up last night at Sundance.

The six films included in the first short program:

  1. Deeper Than Yesterday, by Ariel Kleiman
  2. The Terrys, by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim
  3. The Strange Ones, by Christopher Radcliff and Lauren Wolkstein
  4. The External World, by David O’Reilly
  5. Worst Enemy, by Lake Belle
  6. Fight for Your Right Revisited, by Adam Yauch

Deeper than Yesterday: the crew members of a submarine start to lose their humanity, and they look to complete that process due to a miracle that drifts into their para-scope’s view: the corpse of a young woman. This is a suspenseful drama that manages to horrify you with what you find yourself expecting to happen, and I won’t tell you whether humanity triumphs or fails.

Deeper than Yesterday Rating: 6/10

The Terrys: Funny or Die brings us the warped story of two utterly deplorable human beings saved when they give birth to a miracle. If you’re a fan of Tim and Eric and like their Adult Swim show, I’m sure you can take a guess at what to expect from their short film about utterly repulsive, trailer-trash junkies who conceive a child. Their humor in this project is a concoction of sexually-explicit, mock-violent slapstick and gratuitous nasty. It was very difficult for me to watch at many points, but it did redeem itself in my eyes when the female Terry gives birth (quite graphically) to a puppet, which then teaches them to be good people.

The Terrys Rating: 5.5/10

The Strange Ones: a young boy tells a roadside motel clerk a sick and twisted joke that might not turn out to be a joke at all. If you can handle laughing at really dark humor and an unresolved uncertainty as to whether the film is a tragedy or a comedy,(and perhaps it’s both), you’ll really enjoy this film. Merritt Wever, David Call, and Tobias Campbell do a superb job of maintaining the dual undertones of the dialogue. Writer/directors Christopher Radcliff and Lauren Wolkstein show they are both skilled and brave.

The Strange Ones Rating: 6/10

The External World: a foray into a series of computer animated worlds draws some not-so-flattering comparisons to real life and teaches us a lesson about the power of animation. If you’re a fan of Don Hertzfeldt’s cartoons, you’ll enjoy this film, which is very much in the same style.

The External World Rating: 6/10

Worst Enemy: a witty and comical story of physical insecurity, social awkwardness, and why women shouldn’t try to force their bodies into ungodly tight girdles. Lake Belle’s first effort at writing and directing, rather than acting, is funny and very well done. When asked what made her want to make this film, Belle admitted that it was a bit of a “well, why not?” sort of decision, and I certainly hope she keeps making films like this.

Worst Enemy Rating: 7/10

Fight for Your Right Revisited: featuring Elijah Wood, Danny McBride, Seth Rogen, Will Ferrell, and John C. Riley. If you ever wondered what happened after they fought for their right to party, this was made for you.

Fight for Your Right Revisited Rating: 6/10