Remember all those fond memories you possess regarding high school, particularly those you can recant based solely on opening your yearbook. Well, Kelly Sear's recent experimental narrative aims to rethink every word, image and heartfelt sentiment a person attaches to their yearbook. Her film Once It Started It Could Not End Otherwise, is part found material art and avant-garde ambient filmmaking. Clearly borrowing from Peter Tcherkassky, Sears's work illuminates a paranoia that even the best crime thrillers fail to maintain. It posits the very real existence of some dark secret at an unnamed high school without ever providing the viewer with a certainty, making it a textbook horror film in a yearbook setting. It is so unusual, bizarre and lacking logic that viewers are thrown off by every image, only to be driven further away by each image in negative and the subtle, yet constant movement of the cut out images pasted over still photography. It is something so absolutely realized that to dismiss it as a hodgepodge of black and white imagery over colored images would be a grave and ignorant mistake.
The film approaches the facade of middle class ideologies in its narrative, suggesting that beneath the veneer of a happy high school setting something dark and disturbing occurred. This event, while never named, apparently has lasting effects on those involved in its occurence. Sears clearly intends to evoke conspiracy theory in her work, implying that even the most seemingly secure of settings possess their own dark and inexplicable occurrences. Through genius editing, a brooding soundtrack and a keen awareness of what viewers understand as disturbing, Sears is able to make a peaceful high school yearbook into a thing of violence and infidelity. Each blown-up image that Sears depicts is more and more unsettling as we are given tidbits to a vague story that suggest something grotesque. While it may seem like a drawn out exercise in ambient terror, Sears work clearly asks a question about trouble hiding behind the veneer of normalcy and to what extent we as viewers allow such travesties to occur. It is something so astute in its darkness that to pass up viewing it would be to play into the precise issues posited within the film.
For more information on Kelly Sears, or to watch Once It Started It Could Not End Otherwise, click on the images below: