Indie Buzz: The Earth Rejects Him (2011) review
This short from American director, writer and cinematographer Jarad Skolnick opens with some absolutely stunning imagery of the countryside. So beautifully atmospheric that it put me in mind of the photography of the Provencal countryside from Claude Berri’s Manon des Sources. Of course this rural idyll is soon spoilt when young Ray comes off his bike and finds a skull with a side order of ribs by the side of the road. Well, the police are called and the remains bagged up and carried away, but not before the little tyke has bagged a tooth from the skull as a souvenir.
Later, Ray gives the tooth a symbolic burial and surprise, surprise, when he returns to the burial scene there’s a face growing out of the mud. Now, Ray is the sort of kid who reads gardening manuals under the bed sheets rather than ghost stories like any normal child, so before long he’s out composting and watering the sprouting torso. Then, when he cuts an umbilical root from the elbow and the torso starts babbling in Spanish, things start to get very weird and rather scary for Ray.
OK, saying any more would give away too much of the plot and spoil your potential fun my Hothouse Flowers. I thought the first half of Skolnick’s film was very effective. The plot is very cleverly layered right up to the point when the umbilical root is severed. Up to this point everything made sense in a boy finds corpse, boy buries tooth, new body grows from tooth sort of way, however the conclusion as it unfolded just opened up too many questions that were never properly explained and I guess that this lack of explanation offended my inner Sheldon Cooper with its need for completion and closure.
Having said that, the film is beautifully shot with a highly atmospheric score by Timothy Ballan and some great acting by the young cast.