I’m a sucker for long film titles. It might be a cheap trick to get my eyeballs on a movie, but a long title like The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears (2013) or Your Vice Is A Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972) just sucks me in, sits me down, and gets me ready to rock n’ roll. So, when the opportunity to watch Sydney Clara Brafman’s new short film The Only Thing I Love More Than You Is Ranch Dressing for Cinepocalypse 2019 fell into my lap, I descended on it like a sauce-soaked plate of chicken wings.
At a lean 60 seconds, The Only Thing I Love More Than You Is Ranch Dressing wastes no time. Brafman splashes the viewer with enough visuals to drop them firmly in a single place – in this case, a dive bar – and a bit of distorted guitar and frantic cuts to get you ready for a thrashing good time.
The story follows a man (newcomer James Soller) and a woman (Madison McGhee: Growing Out Of It 2013) out on a chicken wing date. The man playfully feeds the woman… that is, until an accident happens and shit gets real in an all-out celebration of screams, blood, and horror. The blood is provided deliciously by Special Effects Artist Nikki Neenan.
Ranch Dressing has a simple enough premise and clean delivery, all to serve as a fun palate cleanser perfect for festival screenings. But, like any good chicken wing, there’s another layer of flavor with notes of mischief and a proudly feministic middle finger to what society expects of women.
We’ve all read enough true crime books, heard enough true crime stories, and, as the statistics depressingly spell out, met enough actual women in our lives to know that there’s always an inherent danger when a woman goes on a date with a man. Horror fans see a guy and a girl getting along and immediately start writing the woman’s obituary. Brafman seems to take that expectation and beat it to death with a film camera, reversing the audience’s perception of who’s truly in danger, right from the beginning.
There’s also a perpetually wagging finger when it comes to women and food. Women, society tells us, are supposed to eat like birds, if they eat at all. Brafman centers her short around a woman’s hunger and refusal to stop, making for a badass, hilarious, and vindicating ride. Even the title slaps the patriarchy’s expectations for women in the face.
I’ve been taken my wife to Buffalo Wild Wings enough times to know that wings aren’t just a man’s love. She can fill up a bone bucket with the best of them, and I love her for it. She loves wings, and she should. Wings are awesome. Brafman clearly agrees and isn’t afraid to put it on screen. When a sexist asshole tells you to put him above all else, you can respond with Brafman’s battle cry: “The only thing I love more than you is Ranch dressing!” And it’s not exactly a close call.
The Only Thing I Love More Than You Is Ranch Dressing is a minute long, thrash metal guitar solo of a movie. It’s an assault on the senses with greasy wings, wet, squelching sound design, and a script that takes no prisoners.
I loved it… even though I’m more of a blue cheese guy.