A thriller that defaces the world’s cruelest monsters—set in a Grindr hookup.
The Short List is our running list of notable short features available online. Every week, we share one short film which we think deserves to be watched by many. The short films included in our list can come from any country but has to be publicly available online.
As in all great monster movies, the true monsters in Blake Mawson’s “PYOTR495” look sinfully familiar. They look just like us, looming by the sidelines of Crimea and studiously waiting to prowl. They lure their prey by generously “hosting” hookups with unsuspecting young men looking for discreet fun.
But Pyotr (Alex Ozerov) isn’t fair game. Far from it. And what sticks out about Mawson’s short is its ability to passively and actively make its point that no one deserves hate and violence based on one’s sexuality. Of course, this basic concept of decency has not punctured the minds of the short film’s true monsters. And you can argue that their persistent monstrosity is nurtured by a society that openly promotes targeted violence.
(For context, the film is set in 2014 Russia, whose gay propaganda law has incited faceless anti-LGBT abductions and terrorist acts.)
At 15 minutes, “PYOTR495” feels like a mere brush against the real-life horrors of LGBTQ+ youth in Russia, but its effect lingers long after the credits roll.
The film’s first scene shows Pyotr in his loft, watching what looks like an olden reimagining of Brother Grimm’s “Red Riding Hood” on the television. He identifies with the well-meaning Wolf, who sees his beastly reflection in a mirror. You can’t help but feel like a monster when you’ve made to feel like one all your life.