Roy Offerman is a not-so-mature high school student with an all-too-mature problem. After his mother discovers blood in his underwear one morning, Roy tries to make it through his day at school and to the doctor without too much hassle. Unfortunately for Roy, this is just not the case, as the hilarious supporting cast puts Roy though an embarrassing 24 hours leading to one awkward and painful bloody mess. Written by
Several years ago, I was told that I had a kidney stone. A couple of them, in fact. This wasn't declared immediately, of course. The doctor had to perform some tests to make sure. One of them was a routine prostate exam, a test that most men don't experience until they're around 50 or so.
I was 20 years old at this time and found the procedure to be both horrifying and embarrassing. Why I felt embarrassed, I'm not really sure. It's not as if the exam could be avoided. And, besides, people undergo these sorts of things all the time, so why should I feel so humiliated?
It is this basic human instinct to be embarrassed about essential bodily maintenance that is explored in Ryan O'Leary's A Bloody Mess, a short film about a high school student with a hemorrhoid. I realize that, to some, so simple an idea would seem to make for a sub-par viewing experience. How is a guy with a hemorrhoid at all cinematic?
The key to answering this question is to realize that any sort of embarrassment is exponentially worse when one is young. The inevitable feeling of being the only person you know to deal with this only serves to heighten the general isolation that accompanies being in high school. And, of course, as the teenage years seem to be an endless series of insults and slights, God help he whose friends know about an embarrassing ailment.
O'Leary's film, based on a true story (how could it not be?), understands how the seemingly small issues of adulthood can seem like an insurmountable problem in childhood. As more and more people hear of our hero's hemorrhoid, the more unbearable his life becomes. From teasing friends to sadistic teachers, everybody seems to have a joke ready. Nobody understands, though the protagonist's parents try their hardest, making for the most uncomfortable scene in the film.
Looking back over the things I have just written, I realize that I've made this film sound a bit like some kind of social horror movie; a veritable Rosemary's Baby, where everybody is a grotesque caricature out to ostracize the main character. It does have that element, but the film is first and foremost a comedy. It has the air of somebody looking back on something that was mortifying at the time, but has become increasingly funny in retrospect. Granted, a lot of the comedy comes out of the genuinely uncomfortable moments, but there is real affection here.
O'Leary, with a sure comedic directorial hand, understands that these are stories that everybody has, though few would admit it; especially not in high school. In the grand scheme of things, a life can pretty much be boiled down to a few key moments of happiness, sadness, success, failure, love, and loss. However, for every major life event- weddings, funerals, etc.- there are several smaller incidents. There are minor successes, such as making it to Texaco station just as your car runs out of gas, just as there are minor failures, such as making a bad joke.
Normally, these miniscule moments would not be the stuff of film. But O'Leary understands that these are the moments that truly make up our lives. They may not matter in a week, but, right now, there is nothing more important.
One little hemorrhoid doesn't amount to much in the long run, but, to a teenager, it can seem an insurmountable crisis, both physically and socially. That Ryan O'Leary recognizes the dramatic and comedic potential of just such a situation speaks to his sensitivity as a person and his considerable talent as a filmmaker.
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