Fantasia 2021: Finnish Short NIGHT OF THE LIVING DICKS Fires a Shot at Toxic Masculinity

Night of the Living Dicks is currently screening at Quebec’s Fantasia International Film Festival.

Ilja Rautsi’s Finnish short Night of the Living Dicks is one of the big surprises of this year’s Fantasia Festival for me.

It would be easy to mentally write this off based on the sophomoric title or its phallic poster, and indeed I nearly did just that. But after reading the premise and getting an idea of the message behind it, I decided to give it a shot.

The title obviously references Night of the Living Dead, and like that film it’s strikingly shot in black and white. The cinematography is pretty superb, employing a claustrophobic atmosphere with close-ups and Dutch angles.

But the film’s plot more closely resembles another genre classic; John Carpenter’s They Live. Only instead of a special set of glasses revealing disguised aliens or subliminal messages, they reveal… dickheads.

Protagonist Venla is a victim at the center of a sex scandal, exposing a politician who sent her some unsolicited dick pics. His carefully worded public statement is all too familiar in its execution, insincere, defensive, and barely apologetic.

In a switchup, Venla gets ahold of a wrong pair of glasses and makes a shocking discovery when she puts them on. She sees the sexually aggressive men around her as they truly are: literal dickheads (it’s exactly what it sounds like).

The film is a scathing indictment of toxic masculinity & rape culture, and very funny in its handling of the subject. It’s not an attack on men, but rather on the male attitudes and entitlements that make women afraid to check their DMs, respond to catcalls, go out on dates, or even expose their abusers.

The film’s certainly not for everyone, and it’s got some pretty gnarly violence (of the wince-inducing sort) in addition to its obviously sexual subject matter, which is both humorous and surreal.

All said, it’s a terrific satire with an unfortunately relevant message in an age of unsolicited dick pics.

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