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Magic H8 Ball Short Film Channels '90s Era Tim Burton

Magic H8 Ball

A heartbroken pushover gets some unexpected assistance from a mysterious Magic 8 Ball in Dan Hass' short film, Magic H8 Ball. The off-beat short stars Nathan Mohebbi (Masters of Sex) as Adam, a hapless people pleaser who discovers that his hunky boyfriend has been cheating on him when he tests positive for chlamydia. Riddled with uncertainty as to what he should do, Adam impulsively consults a Magic 8 Ball in the clinic's waiting room and quickly realizes that the toy has a mind of his own, and is more than happy to boss him around. But what starts off as a liberating experience for Mark soon takes a turn for the decidedly dark.

Hass' quirky comedy has already enjoyed a year-long run at several LGBTQ and genre film film festivals, ranging from Atlanta Shortfest (where it won for Best LGBT Short) to the Cannes Short Film Festival (where it also won), and Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival. The film was made by a largely LGBTQ cast and crew that includes The Guild's Robin Thorsen as Adam's tut-tutting doctor, along with Chris Boudreaux (Steam Room Stories) as his unfaithful, Chevy Malibu-driving boyfriend Mark, who teaches Adam a hard lesson in dealing with the challenges of a breakup and, of course, getting tested frequently.

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With Pride Month in full swing, Hass has gone ahead and released the entire 13-minute short online for the world to enjoy. The film follows Mark as, spurred on by his Magic 8 Ball, he throws caution to the wind and basically turns into a raunchier version of Paul Reubens' man-child from Tim Burton's Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, as he rides around on a bike that he stole (sorry, "borrowed"), drinks, sings karaoke, gets in touch with his kinky side, and shouts truth-isms to the world (like how Ariana Grande is overrated). You can watch the short below.

It's a pretty entertaining short overall, as it teeters on the edge of being a horror-comedy without ever fully taking the dive and becoming unnecessarily bleak. Magic H8 Ball is reminiscent of '90s era Burton in more ways than one (between its zany tone and sunny suburban exteriors), but there's also an undercurrent of truth to its off-beat examination of the experience of being a 20-something gay man in the modern world.

And speaking of Magic 8 Balls: Mattel and Blumhouse recently announced their plans to make a horror-flavor movie about the toy, with Jeff Wadlow of Kick-Ass 2 and Truth or Dare fame serving as director. There's certainly more to be done with the famous children's toy from a storytelling perspective, but one wonders if Wadlow's film will manage to balance humor, heart, and a touch of spookiness with anywhere near the delicacy of Hass' short.

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Source: Dan Hass

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