No Hard Shells Crack
A woman comes home from a trip and leaves her suitcase in the living room while she goes to make some tea and take a shower. Her flatmate, seeing the suitcase moving and opens it, unable to contain his mounting curiosity.
No Hard Shells Crack is a short UK film from 2020 that focuses on the growing paranoia surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, an important factoid that the filmmakers really don’t want you to overlook, because they made sure to include a little blurb about it into the film’s description. Which is good, because the film is highly symbolic, and with a less than 3-minute runtime it can be really easy to miss the subtle and not so subtle clues the film is trying to drop unless you know what you’re looking at.
I also think that at 3-minutes this counts as the shortest short film I’ve ever watched.
If you didn’t know what this film was referencing then this would feel like little more than a very odd horror short. A lady comes home, her bag starts violently shaking as soon as she leaves the room, it stops moving as soon as she comes back, but picks up again as she goes upstairs, and her housemate can’t stand the mystery, opens the bag and is accosted by several pairs of glowing…hands? Yes, hands. Many glowing hands just reaching up towards him from out of the bag. Very weird. But also very creepy when accompanied by the dark (yet surprisingly blue and colorful) atmosphere, dramatic sounds, and snappy editing.
But knowing the context of the film helps it make a little more sense, though the editing is so quick it can be easy to miss some things. The flatmate isn’t just sitting alone in the dark and reading, he’s reading government papers informing the populous about the pandemic. When his companion comes home from her trip we see her walk right past a bottle of hand sanitizer. And when she comes back from making tea, the film focuses not only onto the cup she’s holding and other household objects, but more importantly her hands, suggesting all the other items that may now be potentially contaminated by the invisible virus. Then when she’s gone, our silent protagonist gives into temptation (guess his shell cracked first?), tackles the suitcase, and opens it to reveal its mysterious, and potentially dangerous, contents.
Does the context help? Absolutely, especially with all the quick cuts involved. But even without the context, No Hard Shells Crack still kinda works as a quick horror film, thanks to the creative use of color, lighting, atmosphere and music choices, which all look and sound lovely. It even helps that there are a couple of comedic elements added to the film, via our quiet protagonist, that feel almost sketch-comedy-like, and add a bit of levity to the otherwise dark production. Is it for everyone? No, and especially not for those with certain political viewpoints. But I think for a symbolic little short such as this, it accomplishes what it set out to do very well. If you’ve got 3-minutes to kill, I say go for it.
No Hard Shells Crack is available on a variety of streaming services.