PasticheBy Shivaan Makker Short Film Review

This short film from visionary director Shivaan Makker is an exercise in the home invasion, thriller genre. Complete with creatively intense motives to the violence taking place in them, Pastiche is a must-watch for fans of the genre.

Ever since “A Clockwork Orange” premiered in 1972, the discussion related to violence and if the depiction of it onscreen can be entertaining, artistic, or just plain sadistic. The topic has only become more and more complex, as so much incredibly cinema has come from this genre. It’s a topic of discussion that this short film, consciously or not, raises for the viewer, quite beautifully. And it’s something people continue to debate over. In order for violence to work as frightening as the real thing, we need context and we need to feel something for the characters in the story. This is to say that heightened violence, like say, the John Wick films exist in a different world than ours. They are not meant to replicate it except as mythic grand standings. But in movies such as 2008’s The Strangers, or Michael Haneke’s Funny Games, the context and the purpose are radically different. And this is something Pastiche seemed to be well-aware of, handling a semi-meta context pretty incredibly.

Now, as far as context goes, in Pastiche, the main culprit behind the home invasion is a boy who obsessed over the violent fantasies of “A Clockwork Orange” to the point of perhaps dreaming about one day doing what the character of Alex in that movie (the iconic and terrifying Malcolm McDowell) does to an elderly couple. But in Pastiche the boy also seems to be fixated on villains like Buffalo Bill in “Silence of the Lambs” without any moral compass whatsoever as to Clarice’s or Hannibal Lecter’s analysis of such behavior. In Pastiche, the boy sees such deeds as worthy of imitating and indulged in, and things are further made worse by an indolent mother and a physically abusive father who chastises the boy while the camera repeatedly cuts to and from a figure of Christ on the wall and the boy’s seeming terror and yet slight look of pleasure meanwhile.

Pastiche By Shivaan Makker

As far as the protagonists go, we have a middle-age couple with a teenage son living with them. But what strikes the most from the first scene is that the father is reading some news related to school shooters and Columbine-like massacres. This point is never raised elsewhere in the story except for the moment when the boss storms in and in pure David Mamet fashion, fires the protagonist for looking at gross news on the internet and falling behind on his job.

The mother, on the other hand, is seen as quiet and domesticated, and understanding to the point of extreme benevolence. And the son, the first victim of the home invasion, registers as lazy and  a bit distracted.

Pastiche By Shivaan Makker

When things go down and the home invasion takes place, things become very intense very quickly. The violence shown is restrained at times, but other times it’s immensely graphic. Specifically, in the most upsetting moment of the short-film, when one character is abused with a glass bottle. It is truly brutal, in a beautiful cinematic-horror type of way.

All this to say, most impressively, Pastiche is a insightful, competently-made independent short film. The lack of subtlety regarding the abuse and torture have a real sense of beautiful exploration and curiosity to them. Something that comes from a modern, avant garde minded creator.

Pastiche - Film Review

There’s a real hint of brilliance in a few specific, distinct moments within the film. Whatever one’s social commentary that arises from watching Pastiche might also contribute to the ongoing discourse of violence and the media, and more importantly, how we frame and contextualize acts of violence within a social and cultural structure.

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Beyond the incredible work by director Shivaan Makker, Kudos to the actors, as well. This was a very difficult performance, I imagine, and every scene felt so real because of it. The cinematography and set design is definitely commendable in terms of color palette and overall feel, as well. The music, though at times revealing a bit too much too soon, comes around and helps frame the traumatic events under a more defined light, with a more extreme impact.

The thematic aspirations Pastiche put forward were compelling and often, successfully horrifying. This film is not for the faint of heart. But the Kubrick-esque style and curiosity within the film are a must, if you’re a fan of invasion-based terror.

We very much look forward to seeing where Shivaan Makker goes next!



We had the pleasure of interviewing director Shivaan Makker.Click the button below to go read that interview now!