Myles Erfurth’s Sadie, a short horror film that’s been working its way around the festival circuit, is a strange and twisting tale centered on a troubled woman with a troubled past.
In the opening scenes, we see Sadie (Constance Payne) taking refuge in a bathroom. Clearly distraught, she hears abusive voices from her past tormenting her before finally stepping into the tub and slitting her wrist with a razor blade.
It’s a dark opening that becomes even more challenging as Sadie wakes, naked and covered in blood, and stumbles onto a dark street filled with terrifying visions of past traumas that brought her to her decision.
Payne commits fully to the role of Sadie, giving a memorable performance, as she stumbles from one horror to another both as a witness and as an active participant in the scenes. It’s a multi-layered performance that deserves the attention she will no doubt gain from it.
Erfurth and his crew did an impeccable job of lighting and filming Sadie. The street is drenched in red with pitch black shadows that contrast with the brightly lit vignettes to which she is exposed as she attempts to figure out where she is and what has happened.
The ambiguity of her quest is resonant with the viewer as well. There is no clear answer as to why Sadie is trapped in this dark place, and I can’t help think that a little clarification might have worked in the film’s favor.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of ambiguity and allowing audiences to work out some of the details on their own, but in this case, it’s hard not to read that a woman who had a hard life traded one set of terrible circumstances for another and even more troubling that she’s being punished for life choices that were hers alone to make.
Is she being punished for taking her own life? Is she experiencing the consequences of her life as a whole? Was there a way she could have avoided this? Is the terrifying landscape inevitable?
Regardless of the answers you might find, Sadie is an unsettling film that will leave you cringing long after the credits roll.