Family is everything in most people’s lives. Most families define us, support us, and love us unconditionally. Most people tend to view these as givens, but not all families are this way. Some can be an exhaustive and destructive force in your life, and despite what many might hope at times, you can’t choose your family. And no one wishes they could more than Alex in the short film by Crystal Pastis, Vanilla Cake.
On his 16th birthday, Alex is preparing to celebrate with his mother when she begins to insult him and his deceased father, which she has apparently done many times in the past. This time around it’s simply too much for Alex who is overwhelmed by the callous nature of her words and the way she carelessly threw together his celebration with no real regard for him or what he wanted. In a fit of rage he attacks his mother and kills her. Thinking the worst is over Alex rushes to hide the body, but ends up inadvertently stumbling upon a dark secret.
Vanilla Cake is well shot, written, and directed. The short finds a way to make a big impact in a very small window of time. Part of this is the incredible performances of Coleton Ray (Alex), and Julie Mitchell(Alex’s Mother), who manage to convey year’s worth of pent up emotion in the few minutes they’re both on screen and subtly communicate the essential parts of their tumultuous relationship without wasting time on anything unimportant, or neglecting character development. The atmosphere surrounding these two characters is made even more tense by a sinister soundtrack, unsettling cinematography, and masterful editing. Truth be told, the only real complaint I have with this movie is that it wasn’t longer.
Written and directed by Crystal Pastis, Vanilla Cake was scored by Ruben Villalobos, and edited by Jack Shaver. Director of Photography was Juancarlos Amaya. The film stars Coleton Ray, Julie Mitchell, and Nathan Davidson.
Vanilla Cake is available to stream now on Youtube or you can check out below.