SHORT FOCUS 2021: Cornflakes Are Rubbish [Charlotte Nind/Jacob Bacon, UK, 2021]

The opening shot of Cornflakes Are Rubbish immediately draws questions from the film’s audience. Said audience could be forgiven for underestimating what is about to unfold over the next 6 minutes and 32 seconds from the short’s title card, a grimy-grey background beneath spaghetti letters spelling out the film’s peculiar title. Moments later, co-director and lead actor Jacob Bacon’s character awakens in a field beneath a burning yellow sun. What it means is never definitively answered, but Bacon and Charlotte Nind’s experimental outing is equal parts confusing and captivating for many reasons. As is often the case with experimental films, Cornflakes Are Rubbish only loosely follows a plot, which is by design difficult to decipher. An unnamed man and woman, played by directors Bacon and Nind respectively, live together and undertake a series of increasingly bizarre rituals whilst, hidden away in a secluded building, a mysterious floating artefact ominously emits indistinguishable whispers.

Experimental films often live or die on their creativity and it’s fair to say that Cornflakes Are Rubbish absolutely stands strong in this regard, showcasing the talents of all involved in every facet of the production. The cinematography (also by Nind and Bacon) is inventive, with an array of mind-boggling shot types, a Wes Anderson-like colour palette (if he did horror), and multiple switches from shooting static to handheld, combining to create a wonderfully vivid – but also unsettling – depiction of these characters’ mystifying lives. At times, it does feel like a music video but in this instance, within this genre, it works. On the subject of music (and sound in general), this is where Nind and Bacon’s film excels. A singular piece of music, scored brilliantly by Sol Moulang Lewis, runs throughout and ties together each of the eccentric scenes, cranking up the intensity several notches, and hammers home the creepy visual aesthetic. The sound design and mixing by Lewis along with Kipras Varanavičius are also impressive. The audio compliments the visuals to ensure the film feels like a horror, a thriller, and a thought-provoking piece of art in the appropriate moments.

Cornflakes Are Rubbish is a strange film, but that’s the point. Its baffling nature is what makes it so intriguing and succeeds without question at keeping its audience engrossed from start to finish. Viewers will most likely be left wondering what it all means, or perhaps they will extract some meaning from what they have seen, but one thing is for sure: they won’t forget this short film in a hurry.

 

'Cornflakes Are Rubbish' was part of the Official Selection at Short Focus Film Festival 2021.


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