A corner of hell is for those who cannot forgive themselves. But ‘Selftherapy‘ is not a short film about the afterlife but about a palpable, intimate, domestic hell. Through this project, Mohammad Hossein Zalbak and Ben Cyran create a brief insight into the state of terror that overwhelms a young woman haunted by suicidal thoughts. Insidious and visceral, the short film is more of a cinematic exercise in sensory introspection. The directors try to capture a fragment of the continuous ordeal of the one who, without realizing it, orchestrates the mise en scène of self-destruction in an unpredictable oscillation between reality and nightmare. The primary stake of the project is, therefore, to capture the chills, the organic consistency of this struggle, while the more concrete details related to the biographical background of the character are unknown. This aspect can be a defect since the trauma of the character seems more like a meteorite that silently and unpredictably destroys the inner peace of the protagonist. But, at the same time, the absence of a more elaborate dialogue or a more detailed introspection makes the central theme stand out even more: depression, anxiety that bursts absurdly, unexpectedly.


We do not know the causes of this condition – we are violently thrown from the beginning into the tormented mind of the young woman who relives her own suicide again and again. But why should we always find an explanation for how our anguished soul goes crazy?


Without going beyond the perimeter of a somewhat clinical realism, Mohammad Hossein Zalbak and Ben Cyran cultivate in their high-quality project an aesthetic of shock infiltrated by psychoanalytic nuances. The motif of the doppelgänger, of the soul, splitting into both the victim and the executioner, is the basis of this immersion into the eyes wide open nightmare of the one who sees death as the only way out. ‘Selftherapy’, however, leaves the place of a ray of light that can be seen on the horizon of this emotional twilight. We would be more than curious to see what this process of self-healing will look like should the directors decide to turn it into a feature length film.


For the professionalism and authenticity with which it expresses the intensity of the self-destructive process, ‘Selftherapy’ was awarded with the 2nd Film of the Month distinction in the December 2021 edition of TMFF.