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Blood is Sweeter than Honey - White Gardenia Print E-mail
User Rating: / 8
Written by Jay Creepy   
Friday, 01 June 2018
Severed Cinema Review of Blood is Sweeter than Honey from White Gardenia


Directed by: Daniel Valient/ aka White Gardenia
Written by: Daniel Valient/ aka White Gardenia
Produced by: Daniel Valient/ aka White Gardenia
Edited by: Daniel Valient/ aka White Gardenia
Music by: Daniel Valient/ aka White Gardenia
Cast: Daniel Valient, Cher
Year: 2017
Language: English
Runtime: 9min


Nicely playing and teasing with the name of a Salvador Dali piece from the late ‘20s – in fact it was his first surrealist work, White Gardenia presents a short that almost defies location on Google anywhere. However, here it is, like a diamond in the minefield of wants-to-be different fields of mushrooms. Blood is Sweeter than Honey doesn't want to be anything but itself.

This reminded me of the VHS tapes which circulated the UK back in the early to mid-‘90s, which showed self-mutilation as an artform, rape victims screaming as the aftermath tore them to pieces, beautifully documented acts of fetishes, all filmed guerrilla-style and grainy. (Yes, I hung in some varied circles whilst at college. I was in performing arts, you see, where I obtained many of these films. I'm not saying all theatre groups are like this, but I tend to always find the outcasts and the bizarre. In fact, since I began my many years at Severed Cinema -- my word, back in 2012 they placed me in this padded cell!! -- I have discovered the cave to lower myself deeper and deeper underground looking for the wild and free plunges further into the abyss.) White Gardenia is simply that! Wild as in the visuals, and free as in everything happens as he wants it to. No compromises, just as it is meant to occur.

Daniel Valient's name is all over this like some kind of vanity project. I recently reviewed the music video, No Please, Not in my Mouth by White Gardenia (see review) and it opened a Pandora's Box of delights for me to explore further.

Beginning with a musical accompaniment of tunes in reverse, I think a close comparison would be to the breakdown in the centre of David Bowie's Black Star, we watch our main lady swaying in the kitchen whilst adorned in an oversized witch’s hat – this one is apparently loosely inspired by the Witchsploitation flicks of the ‘40s and ‘50s. She then steps back and stares into the camera as if to say, yeah, you don't know what you've come here to see do you? This girl has that PJ Harvey look. She lives down the street, catches your eye, but you kind of think there's a lot more to her – so much hidden away.

The film becomes dreamlike as we see her sat with a man (played by Daniel) and they play with a knife whilst a glass before their naked flesh glints with blood. Next the camera becomes repulsively grainy and gritty as she drinks from the glass. The screen changes ratio suddenly and Daniel is glaring at us now and then as she drinks.

For a moment he appears nervous, almost debating his next actions. Then he stabs repeatedly and she flinches for a second for he drives his blade into his own body off-screen. She lustfully licks at his bloodied hand. When I say lustfully, I don't mean in an over-the-top pornographic moaning and rolling about fashion, I mean to say watch her expression, it says it all.

Time to clean and sort out his wound before it gets everywhere. It doesn't appear to be FX work either. He has a pissed off look throughout this lengthy bandaged up segment. To be honest, he looks annoyed from start to finish of the whole thing!

Blood is Sweeter than Honey is a dance. It's an art work. It is simply fluid motion with the spiked taboo of self-mutilation and pain fetishism. I have been friends over the years with a few people who redesign their own flesh – for example, a couple who sliced one another whilst having sex, and a man who DIY sliced his own tongue in half for the thrill chase, so it didn't make me raise my eyebrows. I enjoyed the wealth of ideas in such a simple piece of work. My one gripe came at the end scene; I felt it destroyed all the atmosphere which had steadily built.

Too many people will try to take it too seriously, be offended, and shocked then switch off. Like I said, I found layers under-neigh and I chuckled when I noticed the glass chalice they drank from was actually a cheap Halloween plastic skull one which I see in my local supermarket for 99p every October. That added a surreal black humour. Blood is Sweeter than Honey is cheap, it's quick, it's there to glare at you and dare you to watch.

Daniel, a.k.a. White Gardenia, has filmed many short films that generally keep similar themes. He's currently editing a new small epic called Precursor to a Mutilation. Keep your eyes on Severed Cinema for that one coming soon.



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