Custom poster

Nobody said the work would be easy or dignified, but at least it allows Harriet and Jasper to work from the comfort of their own homes or studio and to ostensibly be their own bosses, choosing whether or not to accept the commissions they are offered, former members of an art collective who found it didn’t pay the rent and who have since set themselves up creating custom kink and fetish videos for the specialist market.

An offer of £10,000, however, is too much to refuse whatever the conditions attached, nor is the specification particularly hardcore, though it is stated that the recording should be on videotape rather than digital, that no copies should be made and they should not play it back prior to delivery; anything else requested wouldn’t have been significant, or else they would recall it, rather than the strange absence in their minds both have of the event…

Custom; Jasper (Rowan Polonski) finds himself in a vigil in a wilderness of video monitors.

An analogue oddity marking the feature debut of writer and director Tiago Teixeira which made its world premiere at FrightFest at Glasgow Film Festival, Custom stars Abigail Hardingham and Rowan Polonski as Harriet and Jasper, they look exactly like people who would be called Harriet and Jasper, artists and performers obviously on the cutting edge as she has a safety pin in her necklace and he wears black nail polish along with their blue bathrobes and red balaclavas.

Their contact who arranged the commission a shifty man named Bishop (Brad Moore) who is falling down his own rabbit hole of demented obsessions, Jasper attempts to emulate something approaching curiosity and attempts to find out more, beginning to suspect they have been anonymously hired by Sam Norda, former director of Mandragore Films, a crumpled business card bearing a defunct London dialling code and internet searches offering little more than urban legends.

Custom; Harriet (Abigail Hardingham) prepares herself for another performance.

A film more about the medium through which it is conveyed than anything original it actually has to offer, it is perhaps redundant to say that Custom is niche viewing, in thrall to the analogue magic of grainy, decayed videotape, the magnetic flux of the tape, the aim “to create something beautiful and then be annihilated by it” but featuring shots of classical art and black and white photography more interesting than the film into which they are inserted.

With dreams of unspooled videotape bondage so dull the lighting is the only thing which holds the attention, there are aspects of The Stone Tape, Videodrome, Lost Highway, or more recently Broadcast Signal Intrusion, Transmission or the “cursed film” of Antrum in the overdubbed incantations intended to invoke the uncanny but looking for answers in the snow of dropped frames pays poor dividends, the tape an ouroboros which rather than consuming itself repeats itself in a loop, running endlessly but without purpose.

The Glasgow Film Festival concluded on Sunday 10th March

Custom; inevitably, with time the tape unspools and the body decays.



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