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?
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.
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.
Which brings us to today and another 13 of the best fictional libraries.
13) Gary’s Library from SpongeBob SquarePants “Sleepy Time Episode”
SpongeBob is dreaming about driving when Mrs. Puff takes away his license and he finds himself ejected from his dream. SpongeBob sees his sleeping form, but decides to not renter his mind but instead visit all his friend’s dreams with all the usual SpongeBob shenanigans.
Why the library is awesome!: When SpongeBob enters Gary’s dream he finds Gary in an enormous library. I don’t know what kind of books a snail would read but this dream library of Gary’s is highly impressive. It brings to mind the Dream Library in the The Sandman Chronicles. It definitely would have some interesting works.
12) University Library in An Extremely Goofy Movie
Goofy loses his son (to college) and his job all within the same timeframe. He know needs to finish his degree in order to find a new career and decides to go to the same university as his son. There he gets involved in extreme sports (it was the ’90s everything was xtreme), and more. Can he survive the school year? Or will he make a goof of this as well.
Why the library is awesome!: While this library is an average college library, the librarian makes this seem like a fun place to be as she is really “groovy”. Plus, Goofy has probably made more than one mess that staff had to clean up so you know everything is where it should be as it has just been reshelved.
11) Milderhurst Castle Library in The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
In The Distant Hours, a mother and daughter are brought together over a long awaited letter. Edie has always been obsessed with the Gothic novel The Mud Man, and when she is driving out to speak to an author in Kent, she passes Milderhurst Castle, where the author of The Mud Man used to reside. It turns out that Edie has a deeper connection to The Mud Man as she discovers her mother used to reside their during WWII. Edie is asked to write a biography on the family, and while in this Poe-vain gothic house she discovers secrets of The Mud Man and her family.
Why the library is awesome!: This library is extremely old and no longer well taken care of, but it still sounds amazing and I can imagine it was incredible when the family took care of it.
“Shelves spanned all four walls, floor to ceiling…they were lined with very old books, the sort with marbled endpapers, gold-dipped edges, and black cloth binding.
It sounds like it used to be a wonderful place to spend your days.
10) The Abbey of Saint Anne de Beaupré Library in Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
In Outlander, Claire has recently reunited with her husband Frank Randall after being separated during WWII. The two decide to celebrate with a honeymoon to Scotland, where Frank’s ancestors spent some considerable time. Frank gives all his attention to researching his family tree and Claire finds other ways to occupy her time. She decides to visit this magical henge to get a closer look at some flowers growing there (she’s an amateur botanist) and finds herself transported to mid-18th century Scotland. She is luckily picked up by some friendly Scots, one of which is the amazing Jamie Fraser, and tries to find a way to survive the past long enough to come back to the future.
Why the library is awesome!: One of my favorite parts of this book is when they visit the Monks, as even though a lot of terrible things have happened for them to go there, the Monks are some of the most well written characters in the novel. Jamie is horribly traumatized and injured after being locked in prison and they go to the monastery for physical, emotional, and soul healing. There Claire finds herself at a loss of what to do and spends a lot of time in the beautiful Abbey library. Monks had some of the best and most oldest/amazing books in all history. This one is sure to have countless treasures.
9) The Winds Abbey Library in The Crown Conspiracy by Michael J. Sullivan
Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melbourn are thieves for hire. One day they are hired to steal a sword, and when they go to retrieve it; they find themselves as scapegoats for the the murder of the King! Alric, the soon to be crowned king, locks them up, and the two are sentenced to be executed. Unbeknownst to Alric, his sister Arista (sorcerer in training), frees them and hires them to take her brother and free a long ago imprisoned wizard. They set out on the quest, along with attempting to discover who is behind this plot to destroy the kingdom.
Why the library is awesome!: At this point in the book the Abbey has been destroyed but Myron, the librarian and monk, describes what was a cheery and lovely place full of books. While this part of the book is very sad, Myron later helps recreate the library to be exactly how it was before and rewrites all the books, scrolls, maps, etc from memory (it’s photographic). I rank this higher than the other monk’s library as while even though this one was destroyed (and later recreated), Myron the Librarian is such a delight that I would rather spend my time here a little bit more than the one in Outlander, although by a very small margin.
8) Gyeoroo Publishing Company Library from Romance is a Bonus Book
Kang Dan-i and Cha Eun-ho have been friends since they were little. Once Dan-i was a powerhouse in the corporate world, but left her job to focus on family when she married. Now divorced, Dan-i is really struggling to reenter the workforce and finds it hard with her high qualifications and large absence to find anyone to hire her. She ends up lying on her resume to get an entry level position at Gyeoroo Publishing Company, the business that Eun-ho owns part of. Eun-ho has been in love with Dan-i since he was a child and agrees to keep her secret, while at the same time trying to have her see him as more than just a friend.
Why the library is awesome!: So the actual face of the building used for the publishing company is a real library which makes this even cooler. In the series the publishing company has a massive library with both work related items; along with all the works the company has published. When I watched this I so wanted to work there, spend time in that library, and I fell for the other head of the company; a sweet widower with kids-just my type.
7) Mr. Bennet’s Library in Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice is about a mother, Mrs. Bennet, wanting to marry off her daughters as quickly as possible, as with their father’s death they will have very little. Two men move to their community that Mrs. Bennet is intent on harpooning, no matter what. One, Mr. Bingley, falls for the elder daughter, Jane, while the other man, Mr. Darcy, is overheard insulting the second daughter, Elizabeth, by Elizabeth herself. (Ouch!) Elizabeth is wounded and when she hears a tale about how horrible Mr. Darcy is from a handsome charming man, she readily believes it. She later discovers there is more to both these men than meets the eye; as the story deals with the concepts of pride and prejudice, first impressions, whether you should be overt in how you feel or play it close to the heart, etc.
Why the library is awesome!: I don’t rank this library higher even though I’m sure it is a really nice library, as Mr. Bennet isn’t one to share his space with anyone else or allow someone other than him to spend great amounts of time there. This library looks cozy and a great place to your day, something that I know Mr. Bennet does. And as often as he is in his library, hiding out, I’m sure it is the most comfortable room in the house.
In Horror of Dracula, Jonathan Harker goes to Count Dracula’s to make enough money to marry his fiancé, but it turns out that isn’t the whole story. He is there under false pretenses his real mission is to slay Dracula. Dracula overcomes him and sets off for England to steal Jonathan’s bride-to-be, Lucy. It’s up to Van Helsing, Lucy’s brother Arthur, and Arthur’s wife Mina to destroy Dracula before he can kill again.
Why the library is awesome!: This library is beautiful, full of so many books, and has secret passageways. I would love to have this library as not only is it functional but gothic, spooky, and in a castle.
The city of Gotham is being harassed by a psychopath, the Joker, who is poisoning makeup, cleaners, and other everyday items. Good thing Gotham has someone watching over them, billionaire playboy turned superhero detective Bruce Wayne/Batman.
Why the library is awesome!: It’s a beautiful place to be with it’s gorgeous furniture that I want to have in my home, and shelves full of books. Of course any library that has multiple levels is a treasure, (I spot a staircase in the back). It looks like a wonderful place to read, relax, study, and work out any problems that present themselves. It also has priceless antiquities and secret passages.
In Sense and Sensibility, the Dashwood girls lose their home when their father dies and the estate is entailed to their brother and his wife, (both of which do nothing to help them), with the ladies moving to stay in a distant family member’s cottage. Elinor is the eldest Dashwood girl and the sensible logical one. Her younger sister Marianne, is the middle daughter and the passionate one who always shares her feelings. Both sisters go on to discover that while each believe they knows the best way to present themselves, they both have a lot to learn.
Why the library is awesome!: Like most important and old houses, there are a ton of books that have been collected through the years. Not only does it hold an impressive amount of volumes, it also looks light and airy and an extremely comfortable place to while away the hours. The youngest Dashwood sister, Margaret, enjoys spending her time there looking at the atlas or other books. I know if I lived there, I would spend all my time there.
3) Ainsoft Company Library in Strong Girl Bong Soon
Strong Woman Bong Soon is the best Korean drama ever and I highly recommend it for Jane Austen fans. It is the story of a girl, Bong Soon, who’s family has a curse/gift that all women will have super strength, but if used for evil it will be taken away. All Bong Soon has ever wanted was to create a video game based on her powers, but ends up getting caught up in stopping gangsters from trying to take over the neighborhood, a serial kidnapper after women to be his seven brides, and becoming the bodyguard to the rich owner of a video game company that is being threatened. It has mystery, a superhero, comedy, drama, etc-everything you could ever want.
Why the library is awesome!: The Ainsoft company library has information on work along with other novels for staff to peruse on breaks. This library is as awesome as it is huge. I actually ranked this higher than I had it originally as Bong Soon and Mr. Ahn have an amazingly cute date here. I wish I could visit it, and with Mr. Ahn. *sigh* Oh well, I just have to be content with rewatching it.
In the game Night Bound, you are traveling to New Orleans for Mardi Gras with your friends and end up getting attacked by a supernatural being. You are saved by a Nighthunter, hunter of the supernatural, who was hired by people unknown to keep you safe. As you continue through the story, trying to hunt down what is after you, you make friends and have the opportunity to choose parts of the story (skill sets, weapons, clothes, your love interest, etc.). You discover that while you thought you were just a normal human, there is more to you than meets the eye.
Why the library is awesome!: So Ivy’s library is full of supernatural books and items to help battle creatures, break curses, create spells. Awesome, right?! Imagine what knowledge lies in it! To me it seems like a mix between Giles library in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Burkhardt collection in Grimm.
1) Lady Emily Ashton’s Multiple Libraries in And Only to Decieve by Tasha Alexander
Lady Emily Ashton married Phillip Ashton to free herself from her mother’s control and because she was nice (as a member of high society that was the most she thought she could ever hope for). Not long after their marriage he died in a hunting accident. A year and a half later troubling things start happening and Lady Emily starts to wonder, was her husband death an accident…or was it murder? She starts investigating, but will she survive this quest? Or find herself the next victim?
Why the library is awesome!: Lady Emily won the top ranking as she has multiple libraries; one in her London townhouse, one in her Paris house, one at her English country manor, and one in her villa in Greece. Each one is full of all kinds of works; along with Roman and Greek antiquities, priceless artworks, beautiful statuary, etc. Can you even imagine? I mean one library would be incredible, but to own four? Heaven! Plus one of the libraries houses a first edition of Pride and Prejudice.