Difficult themes of incest and abuse are confronted head on in The Strange Thing About The Johnsons. The bold move has paid off for director Ari Aster, whose 30-minute directorial debut stirred immediate reactions across the Web. Myriads swam towards the controversy, rushing to find the short to satisfy their curiosity. What awaits is an artfully provocative film, unafraid to tackle the darkest corners of humanity.
The intense satirical tale centres on a seemingly perfect family, who hides insidious secrets behind a smiling facade. Unbeknownst to their smiling neighbours and friends, Sidney (Billy Mayo) shares an incestuous relationship with his son; Isaiah (Brandon Greenhouse) has been molesting his father since he was twelve.
The disturbing subject of incest, taboo to many, makes for dark intrigue. But it is the reverse expectations that rouse interest. It is disorienting to see the exchanged roles of father and son in this abusive relationship, where the latter is more likely to be the victim. The inverted relations do well to evoke additional discomfort.