22 July 2024

Short Film Review – BABS (2018)

BABS is a short film exploring the challenges of dementia and loss towards the hard shoulder of bureaucracy in a Kafkaian universe.

In the short we see all rounder director, writer and actor – Logan George play the frantic panicked son of a dead father, who he must urgently gather the funds to buy a gift for the old man’s funeral. The short centres around him trying to get a refund for the sex doll bought by his father.

The short film has a very reminiscent tone of SKINS, from the staging of props in the house to the anxious air of the protagonist,who is unnamed. It’s as though we’re watching a post Skins episode when all have grown up and moved on. The film vaguely drafts a dialogue of the ethics of sex dolls for males, especially with the unexpected conclusion. BABS is a good, but safe short avoiding the darker relationship to sex toys, and instead passing a Pixar conclusion to a tale of loss.

The first line of the film affirms the tone as a Kafkaian universe. A phone operator begins, “I’m sorry sir, the computer is showing two hundred and forty-eight pounds and seventy-six pence, you can pick up the details-” Logan cuts him off to get to the point of where the twelve grand of his father’s money is. He tumbles about a sullied house wrestling with envelopes and drawers looking for relative documents to his father’s expenses. The house is bombed with bric-a-brac, beer bottles, ash trays, laundry, towels, dirty dishes, milk cartons, furnished with archaic Victorian furniture giving the scene a grotesque feeling of dirt. Choppy, battlefield rhythms drone in the background whilst the protagonists digs for his father’s financial history, he eventually stumbles into a wardrobe – finds a sex doll, shocked, music cuts, silence.

The short already serves tones of social realism, with the everyday actions of the protagonist – domestic work, throwing out the trash, archaic furniture, an uncultured stage – no posters or anything of pop culture relevant. And there is also the fact that we do not learn the names of the characters, except Babs, the name of the doll. There are three types of customer service operators that the protagonist engages with; gradually showing deeper layers of bureaucracy.

The protagonist calls – the real love sex doll cooperation – the makers. Demanding for a refund for an unpackaged, but unused sex doll, he is met with a bureaucratic indifference and told no. He then tries to barter with his father’s dementia but is still told, no. He eventually bellows down the phone “ALIGHT. I WANT TO SPEAK TO YOUR FUCKING SUPERVISOR”, revealing a neurotic explosion, whilst still keeping in line with the protagonist’s person – decent acting from Logan George. The supervisor in a nasal and cold tone takes charge, affirming the rules of a refund to a wearied protagonist, the camera follows on a close shot of his face revealing Logan’s stress. Beaten down and emotional he barters with his feelings yet again, asking, ‘do you have kids sir?” to which the supervisor replies “No. I don’t.”

The protagonist eventually gets a compromised 50% off refund. We see him nursing the doll removing stain and pen drawings until the chemicals burn the doll’s plastic. We watch through a number of close and angled shots, again with the battlefield score but with a mechanical snare. The scene concludes when he finds his father’s phone, along with photos and videos of happy times of his father, the dolls and the lads at the pub with the memorable line “who’s your wife?” “My wife BABS” in a cockney accent, again reinforcing the social realism by the everydayness of the dead father, tender.

All in all, BABS is an interesting film that dominantly tackles grievance in a Kafkaian universe. It is a shame however that directors Celine Held and Logan George did not explore the role of the sex doll today in the sinister ways of today.

Keanu Arcadio

Dark Comedy | 2018 | UK | 12mins | Dir.Celine Held , Logan George | Logan George, Andrew McDonald

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