Written by Samantha Kolesnik (proving that “The Price of Bones” was not a fluke at all) and directed by Vanessa Ionta Wright (who killed with her Stephen King adaptation of “Rainy Season“) I Baked Him a Cake is a gloriously dark and foreboding bit of short horror cinema that catches the viewer’s interest and holds it throughout.
Starring Fleece as the mother and Lillian Gray (in her third role as an actress) as Lenora, the film does not bode well for the kid’s father, apparently, as the girl’s mum busily tidies up as Lenora bakes her dad a birthday cake.
From the start, where the youngster goes into a bathroom that looks more like an abattoir, we are aware that there is much more going on here than just a domestic spat gone wrong. Underneath the stern and somewhat unloving exterior of the mother, there seem to be control issues.
When Lenora wants to use the toilet, mum is reluctant to leave the room. The child remonstrates with her parent and the way she delivers the line seems to indicate that this is a longstanding problem. Just this scene alone brings up all sorts of questions about the relationship between these two.
Before the girl bakes the cake, Mother is industriously cutting up body parts and the shadow work in the one scene is brilliantly macabre. (There is also a touch of dark comedy in this particular shot, with a stubborn bone having to be snapped in two…)
Fleece manages to really disturb as the murderous mum who is not overly loving toward her child nor, apparently, her husband. Gray gives the concerned child she plays a depth that, combined with Fleece’s performance, also leads the audience to wonder what the real story is behind the missing father issue.
At seven minutes, Kolesnik and Wright pack a lot of nuance and disturbing imagery into a very short time to brilliant effect. We almost begin to fear for little Lenora before the movie finishes as we also question just what really happened to daddy?
There is no clear implication that Mother did the dad in. She just sets about cleaning up a very bloody mess and at one point hands Lenora a black plastic bag full of what we know to be filled with viscous objects from mummy’s “work.” Once again there is that disconcerting feeling that there is much more going on here.
The cinematography by Henrik A. Meyer is crisp and dark. The camera zeroes in on Mother’s face and we see, with his focus on her un-wielding features, that this “working mother” is a very cold fish.
By the end of the film we are more worried for Lenora than we are for “Daddy” and the result is an unsettling experience that titillates and leaves the viewer asking questions about what is really happening here.
I Baked Him a Cake is a solid four star film. The juxtaposition of the child making a cake and her mother cleaning up a homicidal mess is a fascinating one and also adds much to the mystery of how these two female characters really get on.
Kolesnik and Wright make a brilliant team here and one hopes that they produce more films together in the immediate future.