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Review: J Spencer’s POP (A Gratifying, Gross-tastic Short Film)

As seen with the main character’s shirt, “Dr. Pimple Popper and Chill?,” the world is obsessed with popping zits and whatever gross things our bodies throw our way. Somewhat in the same vein as Adam Rifkin’s Wadzilla, J. Spencer’s POP takes body-horror to a new level in a fifteen minute short film from Unmanned Media. Based on Spencer’s script, POP follows Renee, a stoned slacker obsessed with popping zits on her face. She’s lazy, dirty, crazy, and completely unaware of it. She just keeps pushing and prodding away at her face, until one day the pimples decide to attack back. Described as an experimental project that mixes horror and comedy, POP stars Chloe Farnworth, Travis Coles, Kasia Szarek, Nicole Hodges and Daniel Van Thomas. It’s currently available to view on Amazon Prime, and here’s why you should check it out.

First of all, it’s no surprise that POP has a few film festival laurels on its artwork. Its camera work is clear as fuck, unlike Renee’s face, and you can even see fuzzies from the tissue paper in one of the bathroom scenes. If that’s not award winning in itself, I don’t know what is. I’m a fan of how they lit the movie, too, which helped to keep the atmosphere at a calm level so the audience can really invest themselves in the absolute disaster that is Renee’s life. Props to director J. Spencer and cinematographer Scott Duval for having a lot of skill behind the camera and bringing the mood to life in a successful way. J. Spencer knows how to make a movie, and that can be seen in POP as much as his previous werewolf short, End of the Road. Much in the same way that the crew was perfect for this job, Chloe Farnworth was perfect for the role of Renee. Renee is gross, she’s possibly a hoarder, and she wastes her time smoking pot all the time.

I’d say it was an enviable performance if it wasn’t so… depressing. Chloe still did a great job, though, and Renee was a strong contrast to the colorful characters that visit her apartment. They were a funny depiction of Millennials in our modern era, and I have no idea  why they chose to be friends with Renee other than to make themselves feel better about their own shortcomings. Good job, cast. Finally, when it comes to the special effects, ya know… I do need to subtract some points from the prosthetics job on Renee’s face. I don’t know if the gaping holes and incredibly raised skin was an accurate depiction of level 1000 acne. I don’t know if it was possible, medically, although I understand POP was made to resemble 1970’s scifi just as much as horror and comedy. So, hokeyness can be expected. When the more complex sequences happen, the tentacles closely resemble creatures from Slither and Species, and that’s something to cheer for.

A short film that taps into one of our most bizarre senses of gratification, POP slowly builds to its climax… which is a gross-tastic, what the fuck moment, and everything you hoped it would be. I don’t know how/why J. Spencer thought of this idea, but I’m glad he did. POP was produced by Blaine Moir with co-producers Eliot Murray Daniel Van Thomas, and features editing by David Jacox and Taylor Nida. Find it on Amazon Prime today!

Final Score: 7.25 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)