Broken by the horrors of a brutal war, a soldier returns home to eventually succumb to his injuries. His brother, shell-shocked by proxy, becomes afflicted by the same madness which is known to the men on the battlefront as The Red Laugh.
Unsettling and memorable despite being narrative-wise a bit unsatisfactory
Stan Blake has dry skin over his hands, a wicked imagination, an abusive and cruel sister and a mother who is remote at the best of times. When he finds a duck's head in the garden, it puts visions in his head of a crazy masked man, ripping the heads off ducks and running while. He makes his own attempts at this with his sister's tampons and starts a fight with her that ends with threats and repercussions.
Starting out with a strange air to it, this film moves into the realm of Stan's imagination quite effectively and manages to produce a real unsettling air to it in both the imagined and the real sections of the film. Narrative-wise I wasn't sure where it was trying to go or where it ended up but it was unsettling to go their with it and it did leave me thinking about it long after I'd watched it. The direction is excellent for a small budget short film and the scene of horror in the bedroom is surprisingly vicious and shocking perhaps more so for the low-key shock that comes later.
The cast are good, with the two child actors doing very well with unsettling ideas and actions but it is the director that really controls the film and ends up being the reason you remember it (the cast not helped by the material in the longer term). Overall it is an interesting and unsettling film that may not have all the answers to the questions it itself poses but is memorable and worth seeing nonetheless.
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