Fireworks ★★½

14 bizarre minutes of gay 1940s psychosexual horror at 3am? Here we go again.
On camera sure it's ahead of its time, but the themes it's putting across are more timeless, and even beyond the gay context here it's a dark depiction of the conflicts between us and our own subconscious thoughts, and the horrors this can birth in our dreams.
The expression this has in this short film deals with inner conflict around sexuality and deviation from social norms - the masculine attack on his dreaming self both a picture of how harmful his lusts may be to him, and how they submit him to the very state of masculinity he perhaps should be sculpting his own image in.
It's easy to think that coming to terms with sexuality is this clear cut, empowering self realisation, but more complex thoughts exist than just the pursuit of pleasure - the horror of perceiving an acceptance of one's own weakness is the nightmare here... is accepting an attraction to a more dominant force a show of weakness? A surrender of one's own character and identity?
Of course life isn't so black and white, and the power of self realisation can be found in many places and positions, if they are reached in honesty with the individual's own interests. But by the same token, horrors can be found in the same explorations when someone is still conflicted by both social norms and their own subconscious mind, and cannot yet explore their interests without conflict.
At the end of the nightmare, horror, and negative imagery of symbols of tradition warped, it is revealed he is sleeping beside a man... is this nightmare the subconscious attempt to resist the potential risks of submission to a masculine figure?
Whatever the meaning, this is a highly thought-provoking short that takes on the horrors of the mind, when we can often be our own worst enemy... To put this into such violent scenes for a film of its age makes for a powerful viewing experience, and it's certainly eye opening for the horror fan I am that people have been torn apart on camera for far longer than Tom Savini's had anything to do with it!
The effects in this short film are surreal and full of interesting imagery that tease at these themes among others, the violence of it only strengthening the message. This is the power of the horror film in the most universal sense - it raises the stakes to the highest extremes, thus amplifying it's message the most.
Stories of survival against the worst odds are the most impactful, and in this case, dreams that imagine the worst horrors speak of the most extreme battles we have within ourselves. The horror of the mind.