What’s in a favor? It can be the simplest thing in the world: pass someone the salt at dinner or loan a friend a few dollars when they are short. But favors come in all shapes and sizes…and sometimes they can be dangerous. This is exactly what Izzy Lee’s latest, aptly titled short film , A Favor, is about.
Written by Christopher Hallock (who co-wrote Postpartum), A Favor represents a slight turn in Lee’s filmography. When Lee’s last short, Postpartum, was making its rounds through festivals, Lita Robinson wrote in her review for Diabolique that, “as with her previous films…with Postpartum Lee continues her thematic focus on hot-button topics concerning women and women’s bodies. The screen practically vibrates as she wrestles with her political frustrations; like the best body horror auteurs.” With Hallock taking the reins on writing, A Favor does concern itself less with aspects of female-centric body horror but doesn’t completely abandon a discussion about the relationship between men and women.
As with Postpartum, a lot of the fun of the film comes with the plot twists, and with Lee you know that you are in for a treat. A Favor is a lot more playful in form than the more manic Postpartum. Hallock’s script focuses on a seemingly typical single male name Jackson (played by Shaun Callaghan), whose afternoon plans to eat nachos and watch football are interrupted by those seven deadly words: can you do me a little favor?
Callaghan is a solid lead for the film. He has a tendency to speak to himself out loud a bit too frequently but he makes it work with a strong sense of comedic timing. Technically speaking, A Favor is in line with Lee’s work and shows a continued effort to push her comfort zone by playing with all the same tools to build a very different beast. Shots are well composed and Bryan McKay’s editing is brisk and well structured and adds a dynamic feel with a powerful sound design (complete with some extra stomach-churning sound effects). By mixing a more contemporary feel with everyone’s beloved 80s synth, the original score by Shayne Gryn also really helps to tie the film together.
One refreshing aspect of Lee’s work — that is certainly aided by Hallock’s script here — is that she never tries to shoehorn in a feature length project into short form. Her stories are always episodic and contained, while inviting the viewer to read into them. A Favor really capitalizes on this aspect. The final pay off is equally disturbing as it is comic, with frequent Lee-collaborator Diana Porter really shining in her bit role. Hallock and Lee jokingly prod at the manipulative female archetype and this is achieved through subtlety; with Porter’s character Liz taking up more off-screen time than on-screen, the film focuses not on her demands but on those who aim to help her. Additionally, the roles these characters play in each other’s lives are indeterminate. Lovers, friends, master-servants? Any and all of the above could work but it is the strength of the film that these questions are not neatly resolved. By leaving these questions unresolved, Lee is able to both champion aspects of Liz’s character while still poking fun at the stereotypical manipulative female character.
The next screening of A Favor will take place Aug 29th at UK’s Fright Fest in London. In addition, Izzy Lee’s Postpartum will screen alongside Lady Psycho Killer Sunday, August 2, 2015 at 5:15 at Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal.