Short Film: Flesh Computer
Written and Directed by: Ethan Shaftel
Starring: David Chalmers, Rob Kerkovich, Anthony Guerino, Devin Parnell Murphy and Elle Gabriel
Flesh Computer is a fascinating sci-fi short that takes a look at the philosophy behind consciousness and perception. The film was selected to play at numerous festivals including Sci Fi London and Fantasia, while then going on to win numerous awards such as Best Special Effects from the Indie Horror Festival and Best Screenplay from Latronico Horror Festival – and all deservedly so. From talented writer/director Ethan Shaftel (also a successful editor and game designer) this imaginative film kept me spellbound from start to finish.
…this imaginative film kept me spellbound from start to finish.
Besides stunning visual effects – even if the fly doesn’t quite look real, artistic cinematography and a first-rate script, the presence of renowned philosopher David Chalmers (as he discusses ideas on consciousness in-between the action) also really helps sell what is an exciting and ultimately unique short film.
The film begins with David Chalmers bringing up consciousness and how “it’s the thing we know best.” Instantly, from an audience perspective, we know what this film is all about. From there, Shaftel explores conscious thought and hierarchy as the story cuts from the perspectives of a housefly to a handyman, then a child, a pair of bullies and even a computer. In short, while this handyman takes care of his “flesh computer” (that looks uncannily like the true form of a Dalek from Doctor Who) inside of an apartment complex, a couple of bullies enter the scene only to harass him and a young girl who live in the building. Of course, all kinds of strange things happen next.
What instantly draws you in is the Voice Over from Chalmers juxtaposed with striking images telling the story. In a way, his philosophical thoughts drive the entire narrative. One particularly captivating scene is when the camera follows the perspective of a fly. In this disturbing sequence, a man asleep on the couch, and therefore completely unaware of his actions, swats a fly. We watch as the fly shatters, killed in an instant. But seeing it in a larger size and from its perspective causes one to stop and think. How much of a consciousness does this “fly” that we often kill without thought actually have? These same questions arise in different, more complex ways as the film then turns to the perspectives of the young girl, the bullies and the handyman.
Besides the deeper philosophical questions presented in a very strong script, one of the greatest strengths of the film comes from the believable performances of the actors.
You have Rob Kerkovich (from NCIS: New Orleans) as the handyman, Anthony Guerino as one of the bullies and Elle Gabriel as the young girl (who reminds me of a young Drew Barrymore in ET). Every actor successfully inhabits their roles to help give the audience memorable characters to root for – or against – in what is a very short amount of time.
In all, what I loved most about Flesh Computer is that it’s an interesting take on a familiar science fiction idea – that of where technology will bring us in the future. And on top of that, it’s obvious from the start Shaftel assembled a talented team to put together this short film. Even the music score was great. With Ethan Shaftel’s unique vision and flair, Flesh Computer is a captivating short film worth watching, especially for anyone who enjoys good science fiction.
“The stuff that dreams are made of.”
Watch Flesh Computer in Full Here:
Read our interview with Director Ethan Shaftel as he takes our Petticoat Personality Test
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