A Dire Strait Image

A Dire Strait

By Chris Salce | July 18, 2022

What do you get when you blend years of tradition with a mother-in-law from hell and throw in postpartum hormones? You get a nightmare and a pretty damn good concept for a story. Writer-director Liang-Chung Lin’s short film, A Dire Strait, uses that very premise to excellent effect.

The thriller centers on Demi (Christine Liao), a brand new mother who is in confinement due to a Taiwanese postpartum tradition. This tradition sees a new mother stay indoors and has very strict rules to follow for up to a month after giving birth. There are various reasons why this is a tradition, but when it comes to how it fits into the movie, it is believed that if Demi does not follow these rules, her health will decrease, and bad things will be brought onto the newborn. Demi’s mother-in-law (Lee Chen) lives strictly by these rules and expects Demi to follow them to a T. The mother-in-law truly believes that if one thing goes wrong, the child’s future could be put in jeopardy.

“…if Demi does not follow these rules, her health will decrease, and bad things will be brought onto the newborn.”

After weeks of chicken soup and having to get permission to use the restroom, Demi has had enough of it. She wants her freedom and independence back. So Demi decides to play minds games right back at her mother-in-law. She does so using the whole family as chess pieces to get to her target. And let me tell you, the way it ends is quite genius.

Having the tradition turned into more of a psychological scare tactic in A Dire Strait is brilliant, especially in a day and age where some traditions have been frowned upon and looked at more as cruel or outdated. When watching a film like this, you think of titles such as UsGet Out, or The Village — they all have a social message to them. It is a very different element that can be added to a psychological thriller where art is the reflection of society.

A Dire Strait (2022)

Directed and Written: Liang-Chung Lin

Starring: Christine Liao, Lee Chen, Willis Chung, Jason Wang, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

A Dire Strait Image

"…the way it ends is quite genius."

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