Possibly in Michigan is a 1983 short film written and directed by Cecelia Condit. It explores the predatory, often self-destructive aspects of love and romance, but also takes a dark look at female friendships; all served up with a liberal splash of surreal horror. It can be viewed here.
The film introduces us to two friends, Sharon and Janice, whose thoroughly banal afternoon at a shopping mall is overshadowed by a looming, sinister presence...
Note: Due to the short length of the film, all spoilers will be unmarked. Proceed with caution.
This film provides examples of:
- Action Girl: While the "fight" itself is highly stylized, Sharon clearly has no problem throwing down with her attacker. Janice, meanwhile, is quite handy with a firearm.
- Ambiguously Gay: The fact that Sharon and Janice enjoy their pivotal meal together while apparently completely nude might mean nothing or it might mean everything (Condit's occasional show of support for comments claiming a queer intepretation suggests the latter).
- An Arm and a Leg: Discussed: when Arthur explains that he's going to cut off Sharon's arms and legs out of "love" for her, Sharon protests that love should not cost an arm and a leg.
- Ax-Crazy: Arthur stalks, tortues, kills and cannibalizes his victims as a twisted way of showing his love for them.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: Arthur, a.k.a. Prince Charming, who always wears a tuxedo.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Condit seems intent on destroying this trope and making a statement about the impermanence of youth and beauty with the various shots of Sharon dissolving away into a decaying mummy.
- Becoming the Mask: The narration states Arthur has put on so many disguises and false personas he's forgotten what his original identity was, depicted in the film as him wearing multiple different masks in succession.
- Big Damn Heroes: Right before Arthur begins cutting at Sharon, Janice bursts into the room and shoots him, killing him instantly.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
- Sharon is attracted to violent men, but also likes "making them think the violence is their idea."
- Arthur thinks of himself as a "Prince Charming" but is actually a Serial Killer.
- Casual Danger Dialog: Sharon's reaction when an intruder attacks and threatens to cut off her arms and legs? "Love shouldn't cost an arm and a leg!"
- The '80s: The early eighties are on full display here.
- Evil Tastes Good: In order to dispose of Arthur's body, Sharon and Janice decide to cook him into a stew - neither are repulsed by eating him, and in fact seem to enjoy doing so.
- Freaky Electronic Music: The entire soundtrack is primarily comprised of eerie, janky DIY synth waltzes. Special mention goes to "Animal, Cannibal", a perfect representation of the mental state of both Sharon and Arthur, which is rife with janky lower-pitched saw waves and unsettlingly high square waves.
- Gorn: The various scenes of Sharon fading away, replaced by ancient, desiccated corpses.
- Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: After eating Arthur, the girls enjoy a very long smoke, to the point of coughing.
- Humanoid Abomination: Arthur is depicted with an unnatural gait and poses, with his main mask being that of an old man with a gaping mouth, and there are several times when the women apparently can't see him even though they should. Once he arrives at Sharon's house he appears as a normal man, but his voice is low and distorted, compared to the light and sing-songy tones of Sharon and Janice.
- I'm a Humanitarian:
- Arthur has killed and eaten six people.
- To dispose of his body, Sharon and Janice cook Arthur and eat him.
- Karmic Death: Arthur, a cannibalistic serial killer, meets his end by being murdered, dismembered and eaten by two of his would-be victims.
- The Mall: The primary setting at the beginning of the film. Namely Beachwood Place, located in suburban Cleveland, Ohio.
- Malevolent Masked Men: Arthur. Also, shortly before the women become aware that Sharon is being stalked, there are several bizarre cuts of a room full of these dancing with women.
- Microwave the Dog: Janice tells a story about her aunt microwaving her dog to dry it. The microwave exploded, killing them both.
- Mind Screw: If Arthur is dead, how is he stealing wine off the windowsill?
- The Ophelia: Sharon's dialogue/voiceover carries some implication that she's not quite there mentally, driven home by numerous shots of her lying in the grass, Ophelia-like, with flowers in her hair.
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Sharon.
- Sanity Slippage Song: The "Animal, Cannibal" song that plays throughout the film.
- Stalker with a Crush: Arthur, though the "crush" part is more murderous lust than actual attraction.
- Surreal Horror: Oh yes. Between the janky synth waltzes, horrific premise, and the unnerving footage dispersed throughout the film, Possibly in Michigan has this trope nailed to a T.
- Surreal Humor: Strangely enough, the short manages to achieve this trope as well, with the horror elements possibly being humorous to some.
- Title Drop: During the theme song.
- To the Pain: Arthur gleefully explains how he is going to dismember Sharon and eat her limbs in front of her.