SUNDANCE 2020 FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! Danny is a desperate lonely shut-in. When he finally gets an opportunity to meet his online girlfriend face to face, he is understandably nervous. He spends his day getting ready, working out, and obsessing over her image and voice messages. But when Danny discovers what his dream girl brought with her, both of their lives are thrown into chaos. Secrets are revealed, and boundaries are tested in Emily Wilson’s short Danny’s Girl.
This is going to be difficult to review since spoiling things would ruin all the fun the film has to offer. This means I can’t talk about all the horrible and twisted things that happen in this short comedic horror tale that are so integral to the story. So how does one review a film where a guy drops a bouquet of flowers, and that is the least awful thing about his day?
Now I enjoyed Danny’s Girl, but honestly, it was a bit too much for me. And when you see a film like this, there is the temptation to think that the filmmaker is just trying to be edgy. As if they are trying to push boundaries only to show what a badass they are. To be sure, this story gets a tad extreme, but looking at Emily Wilson’s other work, you notice that she has kind of a bent perspective.
“…Danny discovers what his dream girl brought with her, both of their lives are thrown into chaos.”
Her style might be explained as a toned down Carlton Mellick, or a funny Axel Jodorowsky. This is a more suburban and maybe more wholesome version of their twisted worlds. Another way to describe it might be Troma but with talent. So it’s clear from the context of Wilson’s work that she isn’t putting on an act. This is really her unique style, her voice. And that voice is a disturbing clown screaming in a mix of pain and ecstasy on a suburban dead-end street.
I mean … I try not to judge people’s taste because Non-Existent God only knows mine are a little odd. But, this is listed as a comedy. And if you find this funny … what is wrong with you? Like … as a person. Don’t get me wrong it’s a very well executed story, but it’s also just … bizarre. But then maybe my humor is too pedestrian for this type of story.
A big part of what makes Danny’s Girl work at all is the cast. Danny Dikel brings a barely contained neurotic energy to the role of the painfully shy Danny. Danny is the very definition of the epithet spazz. He is awkward, nervous, at times borderline cartoonish, but always believable. He carefully treads a line between clowning and reality. Rémy Bennett brings a vulnerability and wholesomeness to the role of Chloe, which morphs into something more desperate and sinister. Honestly, the range Bennett portrays in this little story is astonishing and frightening. And of course, their chemistry is strange. The way they play off each other is off-putting but perfect for the story.
Danny’s Girl is one of those shorts that I would recommend, but only to a particular type of person. It isn’t everyone’s cup of warm brown liquid, but it is a memorable experience.
Danny’s Girl screened at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.