Bruised, a short film by Jennifer Campbell, is an exceptional piece of body horror that takes a closer look at the epidemic of chronic pain, a topic with which I am all too familiar. Deeper under the surface is a look at the working class and the sacrifices they must make to get by in today’s society, a society that isn’t looking to do them any favors. And even deeper runs a commentary on the our healthcare state.
Bruised stars Briana Rayner as a single cleaning lady whose cleaning business seems to be in dire straits. She’s also on the verge of losing her car and debt collectors are repeatedly calling her. Adding to her dismay, is a severe injury which isn’t getting any better and for which she can’t afford doctors or prescription meds. In her desperation to escape her pain and get her life back together, she begins researching online how to fix her injury herself – posting pictures of the injury and getting various feedback from anonymous strangers. This ultimately leads to her trying to perform surgery on herself.
As Briana’s character falls deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole, we go with her via an unique form of cinematography that includes close-ups through magnifying lenses and shots through shimmering lights as the pain overtakes her. We’re literally standing right over her shoulder as each day gets harder and each day she fights the pain more and more. As she struggles to withhold her screams of agony, we are wincing in empathetic agony. It’s a marvel to behold.
Likewise Briana’s performance is breathtaking. She has barely any dialogue and the film is basically the same few shots over and over again but she transforms each one with her portrayal of barely concealed and then later on unconcealed pain. She’s beautiful to watch in a role that would be difficult for any actress of any caliber to play.
Bruised is definitely worth the watch as it’s so much more than just body horror. It will make you cringe. It will make you shudder. But at the same time it will make you contemplate just how hard it can be for people living with chronic pain, people living paycheck to paycheck and those that fall in between the cracks.