Film Threat archive logo


By Admin | June 10, 2009

As much as knives and bullets disturb, the body decaying afterwards is just as haunting. An uncanny sense has us fear our bodies breaking down into the earth – perhaps the lucky are eaten by predators beforehand. The history of American culture thought different: Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” welcomes a sublime transubstantiation into the ground; the poet told readers to find him “under your boot soles.” Yet Edgar Allen Poe had just as much terror for the body joining the earth. His premature burial terrors suggest that the ground beneath us is the largest prison house, as if cremation would be the only escape.

Christina Won’s short “White Radishes,” which screened at this year’s Philadelphia Film Festival, channels such dread. The film presents a human body molting with soil, with all its muck and random growth. The narrative begins in a deliberately banal fashion: Chuck (Jack Dimich) hears desperate calls for help from another house. Some suspense comes when he breaks into the home, to find a bound teenager (Alison Johnson) who’s physique has transformed (or is transforming?) into soil and vegetation. Wan squeezes out much dread from her macabre set piece. We share Chuck’s surprise and feel it mutating into terror.

Even if the revelation hits us right in the guts, the film remains as perplexed as we are. “Radishes” presents a dark premise with nowhere to go. It plays like the first act of a feature with a resolution tacked on, like a feature script without a worthy creator. Wan intends for us to revel in the ambiguity, if only there were enough present.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon