Sundance Midnight Masterpieces #3: The Oregonian


In 2007, no film delightfully shocked and confused me (and other programmers) more than Calvin Lee Reeder‘s Little Farm [watch it below!]. The first half of the 8-minute short includes Hollywood-beautiful people acting like utter rednecks—dressed in hipster trash, drinking ironically bad beer, cursing filthily, fighting with actorly passion. It’s rather unbelievable, but highly energetic. When the incest begins, the film has become so despicably dubious you’re tempted to turn it off. But that’s right when the fun begins. The final three minutes are a psychotic horror freakout—exploding heads, projectile vomit, mummies with sunglasses. It’s insane enough to shake the very foundations of the film. Rooftop proudly screened it.

Calvin’s feature The Oregonian takes a flying bloody leap where Little Farm left off, and it never comes down. Lindsay Pulsipher once again plays the pretty prey, caught within the gory, woodsy mayhem in this masterpiece of madness. Loosely speaking, the film follows Lindsay’s character as she crawls from a car crash and tries to find her way to safety. Hardly a word is spoken, and not much ever makes sense, but the film is consistently tense, compelling and smart. Along the way, Lindsay is impeded and tormented by various bizarre and frightening characters, including a wolfish witch in red, bearded men in shades who drink gasoline cocktails and piss red and blue, and an utterly creepy but hysterically frumpy green fuzzy monster. Oh, and Robert Longstreet, cuz it just ain’t a Sundance film if it don’t got a little Longstreet.

The ideas cooked up are disturbing and unique, while also borrowing from and subverting the conventions of 70’s b-movie horror, sci-fi and porn. As such, The Oregonian is a cinematic treat; Sundance program director Trevor Groth fittingly introduced the film as “A nightmare you’ll enjoy being in,” and indeed that’s how I felt watching this lunacy. The surprising appeal of The Oregonian is that for all the scares and subversions and scum, it’s also freakin’ hilarious. Moment after moment shocked me into laughter, a kind of humor that is wonderfully hard to replicate and all the more delicious for it.

It’s going to take a special kind of rooftop to contain this intense film, but we’re going to try to find it.

Watch more Rooftop short films here.