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By David Finkelstein | June 1, 2014

In “Eudora,” filmmaker Michael Bucuzzo uses visual tropes from horror films to explore the “haunted” nature of artifacts from his grandfather’s life and home. He creates a powerful, somewhat abstract study of the uncanny way that old personal belongings can colonize our imaginations. “Eudora” uses shaky, hand-held shots from low angles, night scenes lit by swerving flashlights, and a soundscape of ominously amplified household sounds such as ticking clocks, all devices familiar from horror films, but he uses them not to titillate and scare the viewer, but to evoke the haunted sense which accompanies all old, family things.

Many younger artists, recently out of film school, use film clichés simply to make empty, film-obsessed style exercises, recreating genre stylistic tics for their own sake, but “Eudora” is much more personal and expressive. Bucuzzo lights the scenes gorgeously, and he has a wonderful ear for mixing arresting collages of sounds. His editing rhythms and compositional skills ensure that the film speaks with an authentic, highly specific artistic voice.

From seemingly simple images, such as a slow pan over a blue tarp covered with leaves, accompanied by the tolling of a bell, Bucuzzo creates a sense of mystery and fear. In the case of this particular image of the tarp, we also see in the foreground a mysterious object which might be an ancient mound or pyramid, and this permanently unsettles the image. Another lurid example: a door swings open to barely the reveal a rocking horse, while we hear the scratches from the end part of a 78rpm record. The simple swinging of the door creates a feeling which is literally unhinged.

Ordinary objects which might have belonged to the grandfather, such as clocks, books, and lamps, are luridly lit, as the camera pans from a low, paranoid angle. Bucuzzo also animates some of the objects and the lights, which creates a distinct “haunted house” feeling. The grandfather, in turn, seems haunted by war memories, which Bucuzzo evokes through stylized representations of trench warfare. With his artful and subtle way of placing together precisely framed images and sounds, Bucuzzo creates a world where everyday things bristle with menace.

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