Directed by: Janina Gavankar and Russo Schelling
Distributed by: Short of the Week
Written by Jeff Sparks
Janina Gavankar writes, directs, and stars in her first short film along with co-director Russo Schelling in “Stucco” which sees Gavankar as an agoraphobic woman whose fears manifest behind a wall in her home. Much of the opening of the film sees J (Gavankar) completing daily household tasks as a dark color palette surrounds her in her enclosed home. When it comes time to complete tasks that involve going outside she crumbles, hearing everyday outside noises like the wind becoming monstrous as if it’s about to turn into a tornado. The more she stays inside the more a hole in her wall becomes ominous as if there is a monster behind it. More paranormal incidents occur behind the wall as she becomes increasingly sick from a cold. Eventually, she destroys the wall with a sledgehammer, finding a chair made of human body parts inside that uses its arms to pull her down into it. She awakens from her daze, realizing she has wound up outside after knocking down the wall. I like this allegory as it represents that the only thing holding her back is herself. The arms on the chair holding her were her own.
Gavankar gives a believable and brave performance here, especially in a strange scene involving a makeout session with a tongue emerging from the hole in her wall. Even with being first-time directors, “Stucco” looks and feels more advanced than you would expect from an amateur project. Gavankar has clearly learned a lot from working with directors from all types of entertainment whether it be television series, video games, or blockbuster films.
“Stucco” Short Film