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A gorgeous, haunting exploration of youthful imagination,
THE CAPTURED BIRD transports viewers back in time to their own early
excavations of the dark. The eleven-minute short is the freshman outing from
genre publishing icon Jovanka Vuckovic, who reportedly turned to her horror
heroes for guidance at the project’s outset. In the end, just as she proved in ZOMBIES!
AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF THE UNDEAD and with how she evolved Canada’s Rue
Morgue magazine from fan rag to one of the most distinct voices
in genre periodicals, THE CAPTURED BIRD is clearly the product of Vuckocic’s
own vision. The results are stunning.
Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, the Brothers Grimm, and Hans
Christian Anderson, THE CAPTURED BIRD is at once a fairy tale and nightmare,
telling the story of a curious little girl (Skyler Wexler) lured from the
security of her jump rope and chalk world into the mysterious confines of a
sprawling castle. Once inside the crumbling abode, it becomes clear the
building, and its horrifying inhabitants, have been expecting her.
Vuckovic, who wrote and directed the film, touches on a
number of primal fears in THE CAPTURED BIRD’s brief running time. Angling for
the goosebumps of brave viewers are maggots, worms, apparitions, shrouded black
hallways, and the birth of a truly unforgettable troupe of beasts. Her color
palette is out-and-out Argento, painting the walls with alluring reds and
cautious cool blues; Kudos to location manager Brad Gratkowski for landing the
quintessential estate-in-ruins for exteriors, giving this socially-funded
project the feel of a multi-million dollar picture.
Rob McCallum’s creature design is unforgettable, bringing a
centuries-old legend to vivid, dripping, life. In fact, the entire effects crew
is to be applauded for delivering scenes that outpace most of what many genre
production houses are pumping out these days, and again, on a budget considered
miniscule by most industry standards.
It would be remiss not to make mention of the maturity on
display from young Wexler, who in her six years, was already a veteran of four
television shows before stepping into the shoes of our little BIRD. She carries
herself with something that belies her age, and arrives at the film’s climax
with a sincerity and innocence that serves as the hinge on which the finale
THE CAPTURED BIRD takes adults back to a simpler time when
terror and joy often went hand-in-hand, and reminds children that their fear of
what lurks in the corner of their room very well may be something to be
concerned about. Vuckovic and her crew have created something beautiful here,
so be prepared for the festival awards to start piling up for this most unique
little gem. I, for one, cannot wait to see what they do next.
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