Short film review: Ready to Burst

Ariel Hansen in Ready to Burst
Poster for Ready to Burst

Ah, the miracle of childbirth. That glorious time when a woman begins to gestate life. Her skin glows, she radiates energy, and nothing could be more beautiful. That is, of course, unless you’re the unfortunate main character in Ariel Hansen’s new short film Ready to Burst.

Kate and Dylyn are desperately trying to get pregnant. The short starts off with Kate taking what are assumed to be some kind of prenatal vitamins or pills to enhance her fertility. The pills are large and black. Now, I’ve never in my life seen a black pill in person and in horror movies they usually only spell trouble. This case is no different.

The day after taking the black pill, Kate wakes up violently ill. She vomits profusely while she waits for her pregnancy test and, sure enough, it’s pink. Or blue. Or whatever means baby. She is overjoyed and rushes to tell Dylyn the good news. However, this is when shit goes sideways.

Almost immediately, Kate’s body begins to go through some horrible changes. Dark veins spread across her stomach, her eyes are sunk deep into their sockets, her skin is pale and sallow, and she has incredible pains. At first she just chalks them up to menstrual pains, until they get so overwhelming that her and Dylyn have to head to the doctor. The doctor immediately sends her in for an ultrasound (performed by Luchagore Productions‘ Gigi Saul Guerrero) and they determine everything is fine. Kate disagrees, however, certain that the thing inside her stomach is not human.

I’ll stop the synopsis there so I don’t give away the ending. Ready to Burst is the latest from Ariel Hansen, who also made The Man in the Rabbit MaskShe wrote, directed, and starred in this one as Kate. While the story isn’t anything too terribly groundbreaking – pregnancy horror movies are almost a sub-genre at this point – it is a fun, gross, keep-you-guessing type body horror. Some of the things that happen to, and come out of, Kate’s body are truly disturbing.

One interesting wrinkle in the film is Dylyn, the doctor, and the ultrasound technician all saying that everything is fine. You have to wonder if we, as the viewer, are seeing things through Kate’s eyes and maybe she truly is delusional. If not, what would be the benefit of the doctors telling her otherwise?

While it doesn’t have the shock factor of more extreme body horrors like The Fly or Bite, it’s that understatedness that keeps it planted just enough in reality to  truly make you believe the events you’re seeing. The film moves along briskly, almost as if the filmmakers wanted to get a lot of information in the short ten minute run time. I could definitely see a full-length adaptation of this. If you’re a fan of films like ContractedStarry Eyes, and (obviously) Rosemary’s BabyReady to Burst is definitely worth a watch.

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