Painkiller (2014) – By Misty Layne

Jerry Janda has written a brilliant short film that examines the world of chronic pain and the lack of reasonable long term pain management. Painkiller (directed by Jeremiah Kipp) is a dark, disturbing tale of addiction, abuse, and codependency. A love story combined with body horror combined with a touch of Fight Club would probably best sum this film up.

Two scientists (Kelly Rae LeGault, Thomas Mendolia), fresh out of grad school, are determined to find a better way to manage long term pain due to the both of them having lost parents to cancer. Eventually they create a symbiotic organism that feeds off its host’s pain all while delivering a euphoric sensation. Because their research is so atypical, the scientists can’t test on animals so the woman scientist volunteers to be the test subject. The “cure” works but at what cost?

This is such an intriguing way at looking at pain management and so thought provoking. The male scientist says at one point that the current treatment is to “throw drugs at people, which in turn makes their pain grow, which in turn makes them need more medicine, which then leads to overdose, addiction and a downward spiral”- as someone who lives with chronic pain, this is probably the most apt description of pain management I’ve heard. The film also tackles addiction and co-dependency just as intriguingly. And it all comes wrapped in the neat package of a horror film which makes it all the more better.

Kelly Rae LeGault is the standout here. While all the actors involved are top-notch, her portrayal of the woman scientist who becomes the test subject is intense, engaging, frightening and heartbreaking. Her swift turn from “normal” to “non-normal” plays out exactly as one would expect with an array of emotions. I say let’s see more of her.

If you want to learn more about Painkiller, including where you can view it, visit the film’s Facebook page or their website today!