James Franco's New Short Film is Disturbing, Awful, and Very Him


Hey, how's your day going? Fun? Calm? Maybe hanging out with a friend or watching TV? Well, why don't you stop having a pleasant time and watch this awful, horrifying, repulsive, and deeply upsetting short that features Michael Shannon kidnapping, murdering, and having sex with a girl? Oh, of course you don't, that sounds like it would be really unsettling. But it's James Franco's new short film! Does that change your mind?

That's right, the Prince of Pretentious himself, Mr. James Franco, made the 15-minute short, titled Herbert White, during his time at NYU, and it's based on a poem by Frank Bidart. Franco is only releasing the film now because he recently directed the upcoming film Child of God, itself an adaptation of a Cormac McCarthy novel.

The short takes itself about as seriously as Franco takes himself, which is to say, it is an impressively self-serious piece of short film. Shannon turns in a solid performance, but he's Michael Shannon, he'd be good in anything.

Seriously though, it's clear that it's supposed to be an unflinching look at the day-to-day life of a serial killer, but because it's handled with so little investment or flair, it becomes a bored camera watching a man commit unspeakable acts. There's no voice to the film, merely an assumption that people will watch out of morbid curiosity and because the name James Franco is attached to it.

In all fairness, it worked, and I watched.

And you probably will too.

If you're interested, you can watch the video here, but I am serious about those trigger warnings.