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Friday, July 3, 2020

Guillermo del Toro’s Ghoulish Early Short ‘Geometria’ Laid the Groundwork in Developing His Style

Of all the many streaming services offered, the best ones tend to focus on curated content. Services like Shudder, created specifically for and by the horror fan, and the Criterion Channel. While the latter offers an eclectic mix of classic and contemporary films, there’s still plenty of genre offerings available. Even better is that Criterion Channel’s offerings often come with supplemental material as well, translating their home video format to the digital age. One of the coolest hidden gems on Criterion Channel is Geometria, an early short film by renowned genre filmmaker Guillermo del Toro.

Also available on the Criterion release of Cronos, for those without a Criterion Channel subscription, Geometria gives a quick, ghoulish peak into the then developing mind of Guillermo del Toro. Clocking in at six-and-a-half minutes, Geometria tells of a boy (Fernando Garcia Marin) in trouble with his widowed mother (Guadalupe del Toro) for having failed his geometry exam for the third time. Vowing never to fail again, he sulks off to his room, draws a pentagram for protection, and then summons a demon to grant him wishes. One, of course, that he pass geometry. The second wish is for the return of his deceased father. Being that this is a horror short, and from the mind of del Toro, these wishes have grim Monkey’s Paw type twists. The punch line of it all is that the boy’s inability to pass geometry rendered him unable to know how many sides a pentagram should have, therefore making him vulnerable to the demon.

Loosely adapted from Frederic Brown’s short story “Naturally, Geometria shows off not just del Toro’s sense of humor, but influences that largely shaped his enduring aesthetic. Made while attending film school, this notable early short bears clear Italian horror influences. Del Toro was fascinated by the works of Lucio Fulci, Mario Bava, and Dario Argento, and emulated their style here. Fulci’s impact is keenly felt in the way del Toro approached the grislier aspects of his short. It was the saturated colors and vivid lighting, borrowed from Bava and Argento, that would prove the most enduring on the filmmaker, though.

The way Argento and Bava used color as a textural element in their films is something that spoke to del Toro on a deep level as a storyteller. Geometria utilizes popping reds and blues, and it’s an early experiment in color palettes for the director, a tool in his visual style. He creates intricate visual feasts in his films to enhance the story, from lighting to production design and everything between, all to create what he calls “eye protein,” a fun play on eye candy. Meaning, everything on screen has a specific purpose for the overall narrative and its characters. The saturated colors of Geometria may have borrowed from Bava and Argento, but del Toro eventually found his signature color palette in ambers and cyans.

He made the short over a weekend, for less than two thousand dollars. Having spent much of the ‘80s working as a special effects artist under legendary artist Dick Smith, del Toro co-founded special effects company Necropia and used them to create the makeup effects for his short. The undead father and the Exorcist riff demon Linda B. (Rodrigo Moro) being the primary elements. Del Toro had his mother play the mother to keep costs low. All of which to say, creativity, ingenuity, and means to make full use of any resources at your disposal proves key in filmmaking.

Written, directed, and produced by del Toro, Geometria was hardly the first short the filmmaker ever made. He began experimenting with his father’s Super 8 camera starting around age eight, but it’s one of the most accessible, and one that showcases his emerging style well. For its Criterion release, del Toro had a second chance to complete the film the way he originally wanted, trimming it down a bit in length and adding a new music score. For a casual fan, Geometria presents a fascinating slice of horror and horror history. For the aspiring filmmaker, though, it’s a hopeful nudge of encouragement. Del Toro shot a little love letter to the genre on the weekend, with hardly any money, and using whatever resources he could get a hold of to make it work. He wasn’t even satisfied with it entirely until he could touch it up in 2010 for Cronos’ Criterion release.

If you’ve been tempted to try your hand at making a short, the weird pandemic timeline we find ourselves in makes now an excellent time. And Geometria makes for an inspiring short from a filmmaking standpoint, as well as a humorous piece of gruesome horror for the casual fan.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/editorials/3622057/guillermo-del-toros-ghoulish-early-short-geometria-laid-groundwork-developing-style/

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