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[Review]: The Shedding (2024)

Embodying the much loved aesthetics of B-Movies from the 1980s is the short horror feature The Shedding from co-directors Lakkaya Palmer and William Dupere. Created primarily by students, and financed by fundraising, The Shedding is a dark and ambient examination of gender and race through the lens of a psychological body horror.

Opening with a quote from author Leonardo Donofrio from his book Old Country about identity being an ever-changing, non-corporeal state of humanity, The Shedding centres itself on a woman (played by Jasmine Rochelle) who finds herself enduring strange and unusual experiences in the corridors of the school she works in. With the beating of drums providing a deafening aural backdrop,  her fellow male presenting co-worker runs and hides from an unseen force whilst the woman begins to pull at her own skin, resulting in a dramatic bodily transformation. 

The Shedding utilises the liminal space of school corridors to represent the overall theme of transition, growth and learning about the self, particularly in the sphere of the bodies of women and those who menstruate. Between the inability of the main character to be heard, and the fright demonstrated by her male colleague, the film expresses the gaslighting and fear that society has enforced on the topic of menstruation. Perfectly encapsulating the feeling that many women experience of not being heard by medical professionals, particularly women of marginalised communities, The Shedding is a poignant portrayal of the treatment of a natural bodily function that occurs in half of the world’s population. 

The sound design is of particular note, with rhythmic drums reminiscent of the idea of a female’s “body clock”, as it ticks away in a tribal and fundamental manner through the transitions of her life, from childhood to puberty, from menstruating maidenhood to menopausal crone. The finale sees the protagonist pull string out from underneath her body (much in the same vein of the removal of menstrual products) and remove her skin, allowing the blood and her body parts underneath to be unashamedly on full display, representing the removal of the shame and stigma attached to the menstruating body. 

The Shedding is a Cronenberg-esque body horror that concentrates on and celebrates the freeing of the female body that is constantly under a microscope of shame in society. 

4.5 out of 5 Screams.


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