It’s the first word, the best word to describe Samantha Kolesnik’s short film I Baked Him a Cake. The music is haunting, cold as we open up in a small, dimly lit room where a woman is busy at work with power tools. We cut to a scene on the wall, the silhouette of the woman and someone else cast on the wall. In a crunchy, slopping of meat and bone rendered away from a body, the arm comes free and, despite seeing the visceral carnage of human devastation that has been wrought on the floor, your left with nothing but your own imagination to picture the stomach churning horror off screen. It’s a beautiful, classic horror technique that you just don’t see too much on the screen any more.
I Baked Him a Cake is the story of a little girl who wakes up on the morning of her father’s birthday to find a bathroom covered in huge, streaked pools of congealing blood. Her mother convinces her that it was an accident caused by her own age and menstrual cycle and leaves the lie at that. As the day progresses, the little girl works feverishly to plan a proper party for her dad. Meanwhile, her mother is continuing to be bizarre. When I say bizarre, I mean she is the most emotionally ambivalent and frigid mother I’ve ever seen as she shows a minimum of care and concern for her daughter. It’s a level of nonchalance topped only by her numbness over the horrifically gruesome murder she’s committed.
To kill a person takes a certain type of person, a certain type of scenario in which fantasy transcends reality. It’s where passion and insanity meet and are then replaced by panic. The mother is a horrifying figure. We see the bloody aftermath of her rampage, hear the lies she tells her child as she hands her a garbage bag full of daddy so sahe can use her hands for a moment. This is a woman who has become broken on every level and entered into a trance as she tries to restore order in a chaotic world that she has made. Meanwhile, her daughter seems only slightly phased by the mother’s behavior, suggesting some sort of deep seeded trouble within their relationship. Her behavior is odd but not any more out of the ordinary than usual.
At just under five minutes there’s a lot of story told and even more inferred by the performances and direction. The director, Vanessa Ionta Wright, chose a series of camera angles and lighting options that gave the dank, dreary body of the home and those inside it an ethereal and ghostly feeling. I actually watched this once with the sound off just to see if it had the power to unnerve me without the music and dialogue.
The haunted, vacant stare of a woman pushed to murder. The confusion bordering and terror of a child who isn’t certain what is happening, who feels rejected and forgotten. The visible signs of violence, both fresh and lingering in memory make this an absolutely haunting, atmospheric foree into murder.
I Baked Him a Cake is making it’s rounds at film festivals all over the country. Be sure to follow Samantha, Vanessa, and this film online and on social media at @ibakedhimacake
Dan Lee is a horror fiend and freelance writer with a special place in his heart for monster movies and demonic possession stories.