The Night Shift: Independence

BY Scott A. GrayPublished Jun 5, 2012

Quality and thematic consistency vary widely on the "Independence" portion of the Night Shift shorts.

Adjust Tracking is a simple and brief grindhouse horror revenge fantasy using Troma-style gore. An ill-tempered father barely lives long enough to regret snapping on his son over his viewing tastes when he gets zapped into a charming bit of cannibal torture porn called The Meat Grinder. His fate rests on the boy's decision whether or not to show kindness where none has been shown to him.

Rabbid is a stranger beast. A rabbit lives in a tiny animated room that plays by some strange laws of physics or perception. It watches two giant hands do random tasks between a routine of reading and random singing ― that is, until the hands use the rabbit's fur to knit it a companion. Then, the skinned bunny and its fur golem fornicate and do battle until they consume each other. Life is harsh for a pet bunny.

Things take an extra grotesque and strange turn with Bobby Yeah, a gory, warped claymation piece that may or may not have something to do with the horrors of raising a child whose paternity you're unsure of. At least that's what I got from a goblin mouse thing stroking a tentacle with eyeballs that sucks up a bunch of giant, fuzzy, red sperm ejaculated from the groin cannons of a pair of weird finger monsters with distorted mouths. By the end of the wacked-out, abstract scenes of mutation, violence, angry baby heads and more mutation, it's a little hard to tell just what creator Robert Morgan is getting at, but it's certainly a series of compelling and uniquely disgusting images.

In contrast, Body Memory is an elegant, straightforward allegory for the most basic aspects of the human condition. A crate full of string figures slowly begins to unravel, being inexorably pulled out of the box. Some give in gracefully, unravelling swiftly, others fight, tooth and nail, tying themselves in knots; it's all part of a beautiful, tragic dance. Until the slightly confounding final images, the message seems clear: grow, struggle and band together as we may, we all get used up as individuals.

On a mean-spirited note, Decoration sarcastically claims ownership of immoral impulse and disease alike. A British man gives voice to "Decoration," the thing living inside "your daughter" that makes her dress up and play with a dead pet hamster after she accidentally squeezes it too hard. Apparently that's somehow akin to menstruation, conception, childbirth and cervical cancer. There's a certain caustic humour to the piece, but it's nowhere near as subversive or profound as its creator thinks it is.

The overly long and long-titled Through the Weeping Glass: On the Consolations Of Life Everlasting (Limbos & Afterbreezes In the Mutter Museum) is "a meditation on the Medical Collection housed in the College of Physicians in Philadelphia." What it is really is a sloppily paced and inconsistently presented collection of readings and depictions of various case studies related to medical abnormalities and archaic medical procedures intercut with unnecessarily arty footage. This collection contains more misses than hits.

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