Bark poster

It’s a beautiful day in the park high above the city and far from its urban sprawl, the fresh air and the open sky, the sound of photogenic young couples enjoying themselves as they pose for social media presence, of dog walkers, and of the screams of the unfortunates hunted by a relentless masked maniac.

A lone witness sees what is happening, powerless to make a difference even as they call for help, but when no one can understand your pleas, what good is that? The park, only a moment ago a crowded hive of activity, is now deserted, nobody to stop the arboreal atrocity, unprovoked and inexplicable, just another day in the endlessly changing seasons.

Written and directed by Wynonna Earp’s Ryan Irving who also voices the anthropomorphic thoughts of the unnamed bystander, Bark is a short horror comedy shot in Calgary starring Alexia Lavigne and Anna Barker as the pursued and Keith Kollee as their pursuer, listed as “Sad Kid Eyes,” with Christopher Irving and Rolex in supporting roles as the dog walker and, of course, the dog.

Pareidolia the tendency to see faces in inanimate objects, imbuing them with human characteristics, similarly there are patterns in behaviour which can be anticipated before they occur, particularly in horror: despite the many branching possibilities, the man in dungarees will always hunt the women in their underwear, the women in their underwear will always choose an obvious hiding place, the dog will inevitably chew the stick.

Opening with Edvard Grieg’s suitably uplifting score for Peer Gynt before the massacre interrupts the morning mood, Bark plays is the hound playing with the hare as Irving sets up clichés before subverting them, the only defence to stand tall and firm and use observational humour where the ability to intervene might have been more helpful.

As sharp as an axe and as swift as a single stroke of the blade, Irving creates monochrome mischief on a micro-budget, swinging the mood from carefree pastoral delight through neighbourly resentment to the absurd in six minutes, the fertile soil soaked with blood and regret, the credits rolling but the trauma enduring.

Bark will be available on the Arrow platform from Friday 8th March



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