I got the chance to preview FUCKKKYOUUU—the short film collaboration between Flying Lotus and Eddie Alcazar which debuted at Sundance NEXT Fest this weekend and I can sum up my initial reaction in one word: Scared. It’s the first time I’ve been scared watching a film since some kid at my middle school told me it would be a good idea to watch The 6th Sense while home alone. The opening sequence of FUCKKKYOUUU is something akin to the shadow of [F.W. Murnau’s 1922 vampire classic] Nosferatu come to life. That–and the black and white visual style–is where the similarities end, however. It’s a beautiful and horrifying tale of time travel gone wrong—from the mind of director Alcazar, featuring a score composed by Flying Lotus, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, and Niki Randa.
FlyLo, who previously put his touch on another Sundance NEXT Fest premiere, last year’s Kahlil Joseph-directed mAAd—the short film accompaniment to Kendrick Lamar’s breakout LP—had a much different experience this time around..
“The biggest difference for this one is, I wanted to approach this from more of a classical film score perspective more than just being a kind of beat-oriented type of thing,” Lotus muses. “There is sound design, proper cues and progressions and repetitive themes throughout.”
At first, and within seconds, I am scared of, revolted by, then surprisingly sympathetic towards the main character as she comes to life in the forest under the moonlight. Something, maybe the score, makes me feel she is misunderstood– horrified by what she has become. She knows that what she has become is her own creation. She is her own Van Helsing. (to be clear, though, there are no vampires ‘round these parts.)
When the title finally flashes on the screen, you feel as though Alcazar is poking fun at you, and you have to laugh. But the laughter lasts only briefly. The energy of the film, much like what I imagine an acid trip to be, ebbs and flows and crashes in waves. This is again thanks in large part to the film’s score, a few scenes from which are scored using only Randa’s voice.
“What if, instead of moving through space and time,” says Niki Randa, “Time travel meant traveling inward?”
And what if time travel was a drug, injected right into your veins? Who would become addicted? What would it do to us?
Take a second to wrap your head around those concepts.
The catalyst for this art was not chemicals, but open-ended collaboration–a creative venture which unfolded at FlyLo’s home. “Eddie and I had no idea what the hell we were getting into,” he says. “We didn’t have a hard deadline so we were truly free to create. He came to my house and left with some music and then he came back with a treatment.” This cycle was repeated until the two decided it was done.
“Even in the process of the production [Alcazar] wasn’t sure where the story was headed. He would take two weeks off and shoot more sequences and add things, change things, omit things. It was a very interesting and inspiring process. “The hardest part of [making FUCKKKYOUUU] was keeping my computer from crashing every 10 minutes,” adds Lotus in closing. “There were so many audio tracks and sounds—my computer fucking hated it.”
I want to tell you more about the images that demanded those tracks and sounds; Alcazar’s visual effects–the high contrast, the skin piercing, the dripping blood glimmering in the moonlight, the grotesque makeup, the things that are left to the imagination, and the face–that face! But I don’t want to spoil it for you.
“Seeing it all in beautiful black and white super 16mm is a film lover’s dream,” says Lotus. Beyond Nosferatu, Lotus drew inspiration from two other cult classics; Eraserhead and Tetsuo the Iron Man. “Two of my all-time favorites,” he explains.
FUCKKKYOUUU will exercise (and maybe exorcise) your mind. By the time we hit a quarter-century, most of us have lost touch with our oldest, best friend: imagination. Which is why (after hiding my face in my hands) I applaud Alcazar, Lotus, MAF and Randa for such an impressive aesthetic achievement. Hidden though they were, I could never tear my eyes away completely