The Strange Thing About the Johnsons ★★★

If nothing else, Aster is a risk-taker. Five, fifteen, and twenty minutes into this twenty-eight minute short, I found myself wondering how the film could possibly progress from its already heightened scenario. It’s an impressive number of jaw-droppers for a short film, to be sure, and it does make clear a tendency in Aster’s work for blunt, theatrical confrontation and fearless thematic escalation. Beyond the shock value, though, it’s tough to understand the aim of the project. Aster provokes by inverting the power structures of abuse, making it obvious how unnatural such cycles are, but I’m not quite sure that that was a lesson that anyone particularly needed.