Title: El Viaje de Sebastian (Sebastian’s Trip) (2009)
Director: Jorge Palacios
DIY cinema is all over the place. That’s Do It Yourself Cinema for those who aren’t familiar with the term. DIY Cinema is people making a movie for the hell of it. Just because they want to. Because they love it, because they have a passion for it. They don’t wait around for a project to get green lit, they don’t wait around for no signing of contracts, DIY cinema directors write the script, get their friends to be on them and then they film the thing! And release it! And hope to hell that someone out there cares enough to come see it. It’s kind of a thing that happens when you just want to make movies, and not wait and sit around for somebody to approve anything. That’s the kind of cinema we’ll be talking about today. It’s the kind of cinema that the guys over at Iron Fiend Productions concern themselves with.
Jorge Palacios is a Puerto Rican filmmaker who’s been around making short films for a while now, he is one of the founders Iron Fiend Productions, a company that prides itself in putting forth gory blood drenched short films to shock and tantalize. And with Jorge’s new movie “El Viaje de Sebastian” I’m absolutely certain that this was exactly what he was going after. Shock Value. Hey, the movie ends with a big “Fuck You!” and not in a metaphorical sense either. The words “Fuck You!” actually blink on and off on the screen just before the final credits role; just in case you forgot what kind of short film you’ve been watching.
How do we know Jorge Palacio’s wants to shock? Well, his short film “El Viaje de Sebastian” is chuck full of the right ingredients to do this. The story starts out with a young man (Sebastian) aimlessly wondering about, going to Blockbuster Video checking out some videos to no doubt see while he is high. He walks around town until he arrives at his sister’s house where they quickly decide to smoke some weed. They end up kissing. See what I mean by shocking? Pretty soon, they run out of drugs, so its time to get more drugs! Sebastian, as portrayed by Puerto Rican actor Sebastian Loubriel plays the character of the guy who has to go and get more weed to smoke. Unfortunately for him, the dealer (Palacios himself playing Gus the drug dealer) sells him some kind of experimental acid called 345 Trioxin (yeah just like Return of the Living Dead films) that makes Sebastian go on one murderous bad trip. Hence the short films title, “Sebastian’s Trip”.
On a technical level, the film does have a few faults, and really, this is something to be expected from this type of guerilla filmmaking. But there’s a couple of little things I couldn’t pass up, like there is a scene in which Sebastian is stabbing this girl, and you could just tell that somebody was just throwing a bucket of blood on her. I mean, the blood was coming from the wrong direction, and really, nobody bleeds that profusely! On another drug infused sequence, a naked girl is being bathed in blood, again, you can see somebody is just pouring that blood on her from above. Little things like that take you out of the movie immediately. There are some instances where the editing is a little off, where you can see the actor waiting for someone to scream “action!” These are little seconds that could have been snipped away at the time of editing. I appear on this film, yet I have no idea how my character fits in the story because it appears out of nowhere. We are supposed to infer that these guys are cops. For some reason, one of them is holding a severed penis in his hand. Why? Nobody knows because it isn’t explained. I always thought that would make sense at the end of the day, but there it is. A severed penis on a dudes hand for no reason. Again, were supposed to infer that it’s all part of Sebastian’s drug infused murderous rampage. Jorge Palacios (the short films director) suddenly stops the movie saying that everything is going wrong! He wonders how he can fix it! That scene seemed like genuine frustration to me.
There is a scene on which Sebastian starts having these visions and he sees a man dressed in a Halloween suit talking to him, making him do evil things, like killing. The thing is that I’m pretty sure its not supposed to be a man in a Halloween suit. I’m guessing that it’s supposed to be an evil spirit or demon talking to Sebastian from beyond! But come on! That’s a guy in a Halloween mask! His got those Halloween gloves on, the ones that look like skeleton hands. It was just not a very convincing depiction of a demon. Though Ive never seen one, Im pretty sure they wouldn’t go around dressed in a Halloween suit. I would put a bit more attention on make up effects next time.
I cannot really say anything about the films themes or story because this is not a short film that concerns itself with that type of thing. This is a short film about a guy going to buy some drugs, and going on a messed up drug trip. Jorge is trying to give its audience a visceral experience, a shocking experience. He wants them to either leave angry and upset, or laughing his or her ass off. And really, when you watch this type of short film, you either love it or you hate it. It’s trying to be offensive, and it’s trying hard. So be ready for that. But I applaud Palacio’s for going out there and doing his thing. It takes guts to make a movie, and when you are into gore/shock cinema, it isn’t easy to please an audience! This type of film is the kind that not everybody will watch, its aimed at a smaller audience, one that enjoys the more twisted and bizarre things that life has to offer. Not for the squeamish!