Director Cat Davies follows up FrightFest Glasgow hit KEEN-wah with Connie, an entertainingly original spin on “possessed puppet” mythology. Played for laughs considerably more than the likes of The Boy and Scott Lyus’ superb Silently Within Your Shadow, it’s a short that feels a little bloated at twenty minutes, but also brings a few laughs, a fair helping of directorial flair and what feels like a genuine love for its subject matter.
Dolly Diggs (Doctor Who and Stella‘s Catrin Stewart) is an aspiring standup comic whose forays into live performance are hindered by a crippling stage fright. In an attempt to overcome this affliction once and for all, she purchases a puppet (Connie herself) and takes a stab at ventriloquism. The thing is, Connie (also voiced by Stewart) is no ordinary puppet. Possessed with a serious attitude problem and a spectacularly foul-mouth, as Dolly begins a romance with fellow ventroliquist Ollie (David Puckridge) and plans to go solo, it becomes apparent her new stage partner has darker aspirations of her own.
Connie plays like an affectionate homage to possessed puppet movies of years gone by, and it’s to its credit that it can be so loaded with nods to its influences and still stand on its own. While the script raises a few laughs, some of its most successful comedic beats come from smart editing and creative musical cues, which is testament to how much this feels like a step up from KEEN-wah for Davies in terms of actual craft.
Connie herself, though given several effectively brutal one-liners in the script, suffers slightly from an only fitfully effective voice performance. It’s commendable that Stewart plays both sides of the coin here, but there’s an element of restraint to her delivery that sometimes neuters the impact of Connie’s barbs. Overall though, this is a well-acted and constructed short that also packs one of the year’s funniest credits sequences. Solid stuff, and with hints of some big ambition from its creator.