Daniels – The Short Films – Part 1

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Swingers (2009)

Daniels have mentioned the absurdist comedy of Tim & Eric as an influence on their style and Swingers is a strong example of that. The directors star in the film but are billed as Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, the lead actors from the 1996 indie film Swingers. That seems to be the end of any sort of connection between the two works. Daniel Scheinert swings while Kwan pushes him. Reality is suddenly broken when Scheinert becomes suspended in mid-air. Kwan investigates only to have momentum restored and Scheinert is slammed into him. The result is a very primitive digital face swap and the two characters devolving into screaming nonsense. Every element of the short film is very reminiscent of Tim & Eric’s twisted deconstruction of comedy into its “stupidest” elements.

 

Happy Holidays (2010)

Here we have a  twisted video Christmas card that tells a complete story. A young boy eagerly descends the stairs to begin tearing into his presents from under the tree. However, the presents are living being and he is leading a genocide. Presents run screaming from his grasp as his parents smiling dotingly over him. What makes this video particularly in line with the tropes of Daniels is the twist at the point you might think the video has ended. The presents rebel and begin violently attacking the family. There are some very dynamic uses of focus zoom in the opening and animation effect of the presents is done very well.

 

Dogboarding (2011)

This short film is yet another a collaboration between Daniels and Foster the People (It won’t be the last). It also plays with the idea of a living thing being used an inanimate object. In this instance, that is dogs as skateboards and inline skates. This feels much more experimental and a test of special effects. No plot or story, just people skating on dogs.

 

Puppets (2011)

This short starts out as a fairly cliche date scene between a man and a woman. Then we get the reveal that they are people puppets Daniels are operating to film a scene with. From there it devolves into a special effects slapstick fight. There is the trademark escalation into cartoon style violence and the reveal of layers of reality beneath the surface. Like Dogboarding, this feels more like playing with special effects than an actual story.

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