It’s been a long, long time since I watched a zombie film. The zombie fad had been (still is?) violent and big. The genre certainly feels tired. But the 2014 short film The Grey Matter offers up a funny sort of parasitic worms and office romance what-ifs (like is The Office decided to go full on Shaun of the Dead).
Simon is known to be a bit of a loser at his office. But one night changes all of that. He wakes up in the street, covered in blood. And since he opted-out of medical coverage, he has no choice but to deal with the ‘gash’ in the back of his head by himself.
But the ‘gash’ (really a massive hole) proves to do wonders. He becomes more confident and all of his co-workers begin to take notice. One co-worker in particular, actually. Emily.
Despite the fact that Simon repeatedly introduced himself to Emily, she constantly forgets his existence. But the change in him catches the girl’s eye. She gives him her phone number, hoping he’ll call her.
That night, Simon begins to hear a voice talking to him. A voice in his head promising to help him with Emily. He reaches into the hole in his head and pulls out a sarcastic worm-looking parasite. Simon panics and blacks out. When he wakes up in the morning, his irritating co-worker Mitch is wandering around Simon’s apartment.
Mitch tells Simon that the two of them have had a wild night out together, a part of Simon’s new personality. Mitch also reminds him that Emily agreed to go on a date with Simon. On the news, a breaking news report claims that a man had been a victim of a “cannibalistic attack”. A sketch of the attacker looks rather like Simon, including the ridiculous hat he wears to cover his bandaged head.
Simon has a chat with the parasite before going out. The worm actually gives Simon some helpful tips for the date, and Simon eventually gets the confidence to go on the date with Emily.
When Emily and Simon return to his place that night, they begin to get cozy. Simon panics when he begins to get the urge to bite Emily. So he brings out the wine instead. But the wine causes him to relax a little too much.
Simon goes to work the following day with a pep in his step sans hat and bandage. His head seemingly healed. Emily arrives to talk to him, saying she didn’t remember anything that happened the other night. She’s wearing a bandage around her head, and explains that she must have hit her head.
As she walks away, it’s revealed that Simon is holding a chunk of bloody hair with one of Emily’s hair clips in it.
I was slightly confused by the world of the movie. It’s hard to build a story in under 20 minutes, but I still felt slightly lost. At the end of the viewing, I thought ‘Ah. It’s like It Follows where we pass the disease on like an STD!’ Only it’s not, right? Because if it was, surely it would have been passed on to Simon’s first victim (assuming he was the actual attacker on the news report).
Or maybe I really missed something.
Or maybe the worm is a skeeze-ball who just wanted to inhabit a head with great blonde hair?
The Grey Matter is certainly entertaining and is a great way to spend 20 minutes. It’s certainly not my favourite short, but it definitely didn’t feel like I was meant to be the intended audience anyway. Bonus points for the sarcastic worm.