It is humbling going into a film knowing that there will be some kind of social message. As a horror enthusiast, I have always enjoyed this aspect of film. It only makes sense that taboo or harder to tackle subjects could easily be infused into the genre allowing for creativity or confrontational situations.
In this case, Faulty Roots, a short film written, directed and produced by 18-year-old Ella Greenwood has a message. Greenwood plays the main character of Lola who suffers from depression. She meets up with friend Zack (Sani Thabo) who has an incurable genetic illness and they form a bond.
Greenwood wanted to make a film about the everyday pressures teenagers are faced with, like social media and to lend her voice to those who may be suffering. Although the film doesn’t go into the nitty-gritty of how or why mental illness has come about for Lola, it is pretty obvious that in this day and age, as viewers, we can easily formulate our own background stories.
With a running time of 11 minutes, Greenwood brings to the forefront a narrative that is colourful and not your typically bleak setup. It is full of pink hues, kitsch interiors and lots of flowers. Although, the title sequence suggests a whole different aesthetic by using black and white text in a like it belongs to Norwegian black metal, it is nice to see that this is later adjusted with pink adhering to the film’s warmly feel.
Back to the horror side of things and using mental illness as the backdrop, a film that springs to mind is Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (2010). Aronofsky’s sickly pink and homely tones emphasised the main character Nina (Natalie Portman) naivety, this was later contrasted with her black swan persona and the horror used to emphasis this.
Perhaps then for my eyes, I would love to have seen this kitschiness expanded upon in Faulty Roots. However, it is apparent these characters are quite different. Nina’s psychologically is rather split, going between different faces. Whilst Lola is straightforward and does not hide her depression. Lola is a young everyday teenager, far from cliche. Her appearance is plain suggesting that depression comes from inside and even the most ‘normal’ looking people could suffer.
Although Faulty Roots is a short film and does tackle mental illness as best it can, it would have been stronger if it could have been expanded upon. Whether this means achieved through time, acting or screenplay, I simply wanted more, but this is a good thing.
You can say Faulty Roots is an honest straightforward short film. Coming from Greenwood’s own experiences of depression, it does have the feeling that it has been taken from someone’s actual life. Faulty Roots also teaches us that looks can be deceiving. At the end of the day, Greenwood is suggesting we need to communicate and should be open to all forms of banter. Whether someone just wants to tell a story or have a proper D&M, it all may help.