Director: Haley Stilbard
Tagline: The boy and the taxidermist
Set in rural Australia in the early part of the 20 th century, this film follows the story of a young boy and his sick mother. She is being looked after by her sister, who doesn’t want the boy to get in the way. At the same time she is trying to stop him finding out that the mother’s condition is terminal.
Seeking respite from his aunty, the boy sees a strange man walking past outside and follows him back to his cabin. He is quite shocked when the man invites him in and introduces himself as Mr Kruger. It turns out he is a taxidermist who spends his time wandering around looking for dead animals to preserve.
Over the course of the short the boy spends more time with Mr Kruger and also with his mother, who he knows is not getting any better. He also learns of the dangers of formaldehyde and how it can be used to keep something perfectly preserved.
I thought this short was strange, but it had an interesting setting with a great take on the traditional mad-scientist doctor, who turns out to be just a naturalist. The opening scenes are quite cold and stark, but once the story moves to Mr Kruger’s cabin it becomes warmer and more natural.
We do learn the name of the young boy, but he never says much except for asking questions and reading a story to his mother in several scenes. It was still refreshing to see a short set in a historical setting as most short filmmakers seem like they have never been out of the inner suburbs where they live.Rating: 8/10