Reviewed by: George Williamson

An unnamed woman arrives at a cramped, dirty bedsit with a handful of belongings and discovers that the previous tenant didn't so much leave, as disappear. Belongings are strewn randomly across the room, the keys are on a peg by the door and the answering machine is full of angry messages from his aquaintances. After a series of disorientating nightmares she realises that she is not alone, as sugar starts to go missing from the bowl...

Sugar cannot decide if it is meant to be darkly surreal, a cheesy psychological horror movie, or a piece of modern art; there are no obvious hints. The viewer is plunged headlong into gritty black-and-white footage of the woman (Samara Golden), crawling out of a fridge and finding her own corpse. Immediately afterwards it jumps to her arriving at the flat, apparently for the first time, and, after cleaning up, she takes a bath, where her teeth fall out.

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The film lacks the randomness and inspired creativity of the Czech new wave, or Bunuel, or the bizarre, internally coherent structures of David Lynch. As a surreal piece, it feels too much like a horror film, and viewed as a horror film, it lacks direction and is almost impossible to follow, failing to deliver any shocks, or maintain any suspense. As an experimental piece of art it functions as a slow way to give yourself a headache.

The three previous collaborations between writer/directors Patrick Jolley and Reynold Reynolds have been short films based on installation art pieces and that's exactly what this feels like: a 10-minute short, needlessly drawn out to feature length and edited to be deliberately perplexing.

The filthy urban apartment, claustrophobic atmosphere and suitably screeching sound design - full of unpleasant humming and unknown noises - is reminiscent of Darren Aronofsky's Pi, more like experimental art than film. The music by Foetus's J G Thirwell follows suit and delivers something that sounds like the Psycho theme remixed with a lawnmower.

Sugar feels like an artist's confused stab at making a first feature film, full of ideas and interesting production, but resulting in something that is practically unwatchable.

Reviewed on: 08 Aug 2005
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A horrific discovery in a one room apartment leads into a surreal, claustrophobic nightmare.

Director: Patrick Jolley, Reynold Reynolds

Writer: Patrick Jolley, Reynold Reynolds, Samara Golden

Starring: Samara Golden, Nelson Nelson

Year: 2005

Runtime: 82 minutes

Country: US/Ireland

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