Ventris, from Carson and Teri Griffin, knows how to play to its audience. With this absurd slice of gore-smattered puppetsploitation opening on a ball of light traveling through the cosmos before hitting us with a thunderous bit of drum and bass and a title card font that’s reminiscent of Killer Klowns from Outer Space, the short wastes little time in establishing it’s mood.
We cut shortly into a teen sex comedy montage of a house party and then to our main characters Tim (Jason Markoff) and Lauren (Amber Herfurth) who are making out in the back of a pickup truck when they notice a flash of green light in the sky. They go to check it out before getting interrupted by Tim’s frat boy friends, Chad (Scott Bender) and Matt (Jonathan D. King) who would rather stay and party than go hunting aliens. After some convincing, they all make their way to the crash site where a smoking crevasse, and the titular Ventris, await them.
Up to this point, it’s a perfectly watchable raunchy comedy in the vein of American Pie and there’s a charming bromance between Chard and Matt but things really start to get interesting when they meet Ventris. The puppet, created by Ada Heath, who has previously worked with Gorillaz and the BBC, looks great and his handlers managed to get a great deal of expressiveness out of his motion. Beyond the visuals, he’s given a distinctive rattle that is synced to his actions to the point where I could somehow forget that I was looking at what was very obviously a foam puppet.
Ventris never takes itself too seriously with the characters cracking jokes in the middle of dying and a truly unnecessary but much-appreciated quantity of blood. The montage of ultraviolence in the climax kind of blends together but there are at least a couple of instances of kills that managed to shock me and that’s saying something with the sort of films I tend to watch.
The full short isn’t publicly available at the moment but check out the trailer to get more of an idea of what you’re in for along with the holiday special they released last December. It’s lacking the blood and guys but makes for a fun introduction to the character.