Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Sweet Hand of the White Rose (2010)

Davide Melini’s horror short, THE SWEET HAND OF THE WHITE ROSE, brings to attention the avoidable tragic loss of life from irresponsible driving habits. Alcohol, relationship problems, and cell phone distractions are the root of a tragedy that ends up feeling almost Shakespearean in nature. Normally it would be very difficult to sympathize with the lead character, Mark (Carlos Bahos), for letting such petty issues ruin two lives, but after watching him desperately pray at an altar, Mark’s gut wrenching regret for something that could’ve easily happened to anyone ends up being heartfelt. 

Despite having a sad story, the film starts off with a sexy and rockin’ start in a crowded bar with tabletop dancers and a rock band with an appealing female vocalist. The club scenario is the backdrop to the story’s setup, but it also gives Melini a chance to show some directorial diversity. The club is something that may not have been essential, but it still gives the intro a nice pizazz and is a neat contrast to the movie’s main theme. 

Eventually, the loud music decreases in volume and the sounds of chatter become more eminent as the attention is taken off the band and onto Mark, sitting alone while smoking and taking back a shot while looking troubled. Immediately it becomes apparent that his disappointed girlfriend, Mary (Leocricia Sabán), has tracked him down, and instead of explaining himself, Mark takes the more dramatic approach of walking out on his upset girlfriend.

While driving home after leaving the bar, the story becomes a little more curious when the movie abruptly shifts to a different protagonist after it is suggested that Mark struck something with his car. We next focus on a young girl (Natasha Machuca), and the narrative progresses in a manner that eventually brings both protagonists together.

My favorite element that stands out the most is the music (by Christian Valente), which is put to good use and helps augment the different emotions that Melini’s film guides us through. The bombastic assault of symphonic metal in the graveyard, like the rock music in some of Argento’s films, may not be to everyone’s taste, but I nonetheless found myself excited.

Something reminiscent of Jean Rollin’s THE IRON ROSE is when Mark ends up finding himself stuck in graveyard purgatory and in a panic. Things get remarkably tense and eerie with the sound of a kick drum, as the ghost/zombie form of The White Rose (Machuca) arises. The scene rocks and still manages to be suspenseful.

Just when everything seems set up for a grim conclusion, Melini adds an additional facet, replacing the more typical vengeful ghost story with something that depicts the transition into death as something that can be warm and beautiful, a new beginning that is very forgiving and welcoming.

The Sweet Hand of the White Rose (2010): full length video (16 minutes and 47 seconds)

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