Jim (Levi Anderson) is a masochist. Which isn’t to say that he just likes cutting himself, a practice he considers more a cry for attention than true masochism. No, Jim is the type of guy who will purposefully crush his fingers in a drawer, over and over again, and then pour salt in the open wound. He’ll step in a fire, he’ll open a door into his own face… whatever it takes.
Levi Anderson’s short film, Self Inflicted, is interesting in that it plays off our potential preconceptions about masochism without us necessarily realizing that that is what is happening. Or at least that’s what it did for me. I, like the character Jim, and even those around him, thought the draw of the daily self-inflicted tortures came from a very different place, and need, than what is ultimately revealed.
And I liked that, because what better than to watch a film and get a new perspective, or a new appreciation, for something you don’t really know, but thought you did. I mean, I’m no masochist, but that doesn’t mean I’ve not wondered why someone would be. I thought I had my answer, but now I think, like most things I contemplate as I grow older, that it’s never going to be as clear and obvious as I originally thought.
On the filmmaking side of things, it’s a very good looking short film, with strong composition and an editorial flow apropos to what is going on. Basically, has a strong professional look and feel to the entire project (which is not necessarily a given). Plus, while I wouldn’t call the film “gory,” I will say that there are physical consequences to many of Jim’s activities, and the film doesn’t hide them.
Overall, it’s an interesting film to watch, and a new perspective, for me, to contemplate. I liked pretty much every aspect of the film, though it possibly could’ve been done in a much tighter package (perhaps there’s a seven minute cut out there, for instance). That’s not to say it feels long as it is, or doesn’t work, but I do think that, considering what we see and how it unfolds, that it would be possible to make an even shorter version of this without losing anything. It does work fine as is, however.
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