Eel Girl (2008)

Sex :
Violence :

Director Paul Campion
Writers Hadyn Green, Paul Campion
Starring Julia Rose, Euan Dempsey
Genre Creature Feature
Tagline None Listed
Run Time (minutes) 5:18


“Protocal 482 clearly states that ...” - Senior Scientist

In a highly guarded military laboratory somewhere in New Zealand, check the fish poster if you don't believe me, research is being conducted into a hybrid creature that is half woman and half eel. Only in Kiwiland, surprised sheep weren't involved. There is no explanation as to the creature, whether it was created by genetic splicing in time honoured mad science fashion or was a freak of nature. But we know that the high security doesn't bode well if Eel girl escapes.

When the senior scientist of the two man team monitoring the creature is called away by his military masters, in direct violation of protocols, the remaining Scientist falls under the siren call of the Eel girl to disastrous and Audience pleasing consequences.

Director Paul Campion, here demonstrating he is quite happy to hang out on creature feature street, has a lot more firepower at his command than he had available during the shooting of his debut short, Night of the Hell Hamsters. Multi Oscar awarding winning effects maestros Weta Studios are behind the effects and makeup, and Black Sheep Director of Photography Richard Bluck is in charge of the cameras. So does Campion prove he can pick up the beat with a more professional team behind him or does he drop the ball with the line open? Lets get nice and slimy with this one.

What's immediately notable with Eel Girl is that even though we're talking a “B” grade movie premise, Campion raises it beyond the swamp of the mediocre to a short that is tension laced and I have to say quite chilling. We expect the worse, are not quite sure how that's going to pan out, and get our money's worth as Campion unloads one of the more devastating conclusion on you that you are likely to hit in a short. I actually found the final few frames far more chilling than the set piece leading up to it. That's not a good way to go kids, and it's going to be so very slow.

Campion paces his five minutes well, we are gradually introduced to the Eel Girl and are gradually lead to the chilling final few frames. The Director fully realises that the tension and horror is all in the build up and anticipation of what may happen rather than in the delivery. We may be talking a total of just over five minutes, but Campion has it on a leash and makes it work for it's dinner, (slight pun there). It's a masterful demonstration of how to conjure up tension from a very simple set-up and also how to use the time allotted to hit all the requirements on the chill factor. Campion doesn't waste a single frame in this short, and I have to say it's beautifully shot in it's grunge appeal that will have Audiences giving the whole short a standing ovation. Campion is masterful and I for one am now sweating on his first feature length foray. Sorry Britain we're claiming the Director!

Weta Studios dialled in for the make-up and effects, and the short is notably a lot more professional with their abilities behind the scenes adding the necessary polish to things. The sets are awesomely grudge orientated, guess a career as a cleaner in a secret kiwi military laboratory isn't going to be an option down your local unemployment centre. And the creature effects themselves are effective while not being over the top. Wheta working on the less is more principle here to deliver a creature that makes Sil from Species (1995) look amateur. Actually speaking of which, as much as I don't like remakes if Paul Campion and Wheta were to get behind a Species remake I would be there opening night!

Another aspect to Eel Girl that Campion gets exactly right is pretty much his two punch cast. The Director gets the best out of both Actors, and remembering Julia Rose is naked throughout the shot in what looks to be a very cold set, with the Audience being made believers due to the performances delivered. Campion gets the plot, script nuances, and all manner of things happening in five minutes due to Rose and fellow Thespian Euan Dempsey being tightly controlled, all in the facial expressions kids. Rose in particular does alien life-form well.

One of the requirements for a movie maker trying to break into feature length via shorts is that each short should show a growth in abilities and hopefully increasing budgets show casing the Director's ability to make a lot more out of additional resources. With Eel Girl Paul Campion demonstrates a 100% improvement over his first short Night of the Hell Hamsters, no wonder they threw the reins to him for the upcoming horror feature The Devil's Rock. Campion could throw a classic onto the table if he can bring the same professionalism and intensity he displays in Eel Girl to the longer venture. Huge recommendation on Eel Girl, the short rocks the house down for all the right reasons.

Eel Girl from Paul Campion on Vimeo.

ScaryMinds Rates this short as ...

  Paul Campion delivers a solid and chilling creature feature.