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By Liam Trump | April 27, 2021

It’s been over a year of Covid-19, and movies centering on the pandemic have been cropping up for almost that same amount of time. While documentaries are covering the real-world effects of the virus, narrative-driven media have focused on a different aspect: quarantining. While it may be only eight minutes long, Leah Shore’s Puss shows just how much the coronavirus has changed people’s social lives.

Though stuck in quarantine, Samantha (Sarah Ellen Stephens) has only one thing on her mind: sex. Her attempts at fulfilling her desires are sadly in vain, with the two men that she communicates with not being on the same page as her. Seemingly out of options, she’s on the brink of giving up until a delivery man comes to her door. However, just like the last two men, he isn’t interested in Samantha. Now feeling fully defeated, she cries out to God, begging him to solve her problem. And well, then things go off the rails in unexpected ways.

Honestly, Puss is the type of film that didn’t really need a crazy ending. Without it, the same themes and ideas would’ve come across, condensed in a more realistic setting. All the conclusion does is bring in shock value that’s unnecessary in the grand scheme of the story. Sadly, the finale doesn’t bring out the comedic statement it was aiming for since, once the shock wears off, all that’s left is a bizarre sex scene.

“…stuck in quarantine, Samantha has only one thing on her mind: sex.”

All of the comedy isn’t very impressive since the gags become painfully repetitive. There’s little variation as all of the jokes boil down to Samantha goofily asking for sex. The material given to Sarah Ellen Stephens inhibits her ability to show any real emotion or nuance.

The music, on the other hand, is easily the best part of the film. Sure, it’s obviously mirroring synth scores of old, but it’s the only stylistic element that has decent execution. The effects are painfully bad, falling flat with how egregiously fake they look. This only serves to reinforce how the ending isn’t needed since special effects are only used then.

One of the worst things in a comedy is for the jokes not to be funny. Having a low budget can easily excuse any poor special effects, but such issues can be worked around with a bit of creativity. Good acting can mitigate weak comedy to an extent, but strong performances alone can’t save jokes that don’t have strong hooks and get overused in the first few minutes. While Leah Shore’s short film Puss may not be horrendous, it still wastes its time setting up shock humor rather than pursuing a story worth telling.

Puss screened at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival.

Puss (2021)

Directed and Written: Leah Shore

Starring: Sarah Ellen Stephens, Karl Jacob, Brian W. Smith, Mark Blane, Brian Agamie, William George-Louis, etc.

Movie score: 3/10

Puss Image

"…strong performances..."

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