Multi-Level Marketing Can Be Murder: Concealer (2019)

Back in 2019, Amazon did a special short film contest for “U.S. filmmakers from underrepresented backgrounds to compete for a grand prize”. I don’t remember who won, but I do recall watching them all and only liking one in particular: Concealer.

I’ve wanted to review it for a while, but it is no longer available on Amazon. After some googling I did discover that it was uploaded on YouTube.

Kristine Gerolaga wrote, starred, directed and edited the short in only two weeks. Amazing!

Ivy (Kristine Gerolaga) and Bless (Stacie Gancayco-Adlao) go way back. Even though they haven’t spoken in a while, when Bless reaches out, Ivy is eager to met up and go to her house, especially as Bless promises to treat her to a spa day.

When Ivy knocks on Bless’ door we are met with an odd sight, the window in the door to view who is on the doorstep is taped over in newspaper and when Bless answers, while she seems happy to see Ivy she clearly doesn’t look quite right. Her makeup seems off and is too much, very pale and plastic

Ivy brings Bless a gift, a picture of the two and Bless looks much better in the picture then in person, as she is more natural and happy instead of a this fake almost vampiric look-pale skin, dark lips; like she could be a bride of Dracula.

Ivy is amazed at how beautiful and different Bless’ house is, something you’d see on Instagram or Pinterest, as it, and Bless look perfect, like and Instagram post. But even though Bless seems friendly there is an oddness to all her movements.

Ivy is a little weirded out, especially by a creepy knocking sound from upstairs, but tries to shrug it off and asks for a tour of the house.

Upstairs is devoid of the “makeup”, as it is dark, discolored, and messy. In one room sits a man (Bless’ husband), who looks like a zombie as he goes over the bills and debt they have.

Everywhere there are boxes and bags for “Cherry Cheeks” a Mary Kay type makeup brand.

When they arrive back downstairs a full Cherry Cheeks sampler is set out, as if provided by ghosts or other ghoulish guests.

Bless then proceeds to give a talk on her company, another MLM mummy.

Ivy is not a fan and not interested, especially as almost all the items are expired. But as Ivy tries to leave she finds she can’t, as she is starting to lose consciousness, perhaps it’s the wine?

From Supernatural

Bless becomes more freakish as she looks even more like a vampire feeding on Ivy’s prior dislikes about her body and trying to manipulate Ivy’s vulnerability in order to persuade her to purchase items. As the drugs take effect Bless’ voice becomes lower, deeper, and creepier

Betrayed by someone you considered a friend, is there a worse betrayal?

When Ivy awakens she sees that her face has been made over by Cherry Cheeks while Bless has a full breakdown trying to convince Ivy to purchase some of the product, looking as if she has a spit personality or the makeup has fried her brain.

Ivy is furious at the trick Bless played in getting her to come over and being drugged. Bless tried to calm her down and at what seems to at first be further manipulation is the vulnerability. Bless has been trying to work so hard at her MLM that it caused her to go into so much debt she is going to lose their home, their savings, their car, everything. But the vulnerability only lasts for a while as her sale’s persona “possesses” her once again.

This transition between the two dichotomies is shown perfectly with the mirror and opposing camera angles as she swaps between saleswoman and childhood friend.

After Ivy overpowers Bless, she tries to leave again, almost being stopped by the tons of boxes of Cherry Cheeks on the door. Injured and moving slow, Bless’ husband helps her up and tries to take her with him, but when he forget to unlock the passenger door to his cars (and Ivy’s keys being in the house) Ivy soon finds herself alone…and unfortunately worried about Bless.

So worried Ivy goes back and tries to destroy the makeup that has a hold on Bless. When that doesn’t work, Ivy tries to remove it from Bless’ face hoping that might be enough to shock her out of it. But Bkess is too far gone and attacks Ivy, wounding her.

But it’s too late, we see that the makeup that was supposed to give Bless a better life has not only not made her insane but disfigured her face. She’s on the level of the Queen of Outer Space.

In the end the women’s friendheip overcomes this terrible creature and they destroy everything, but unfortunately both are left with the scars of the thing they tangled with.

Or is it?

I really enjoyed the way this film takes the predatory nature of MLM and made it the monster that “possesses” and injures the characters. I read some comments that felt it wasn’t subtle enough or that it was too over the top; but I disagree. I feel like it captured the feelings one has when a MLM preys or tries to prey on them, in an exaggerated setting. Which is what well done horror films do, they take an idea, thought, or event and exaggerate the fear of it. Again I really enjoyed it and staunchly recommend it.

For more short film reviews, go to No Mere Mortal Can Resist the Evil of the Thriller: Thriller (1983)

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