The Herd review

Have you ever thought of what would happen if the women of the world were suddenly enslaved and treated similar to how we treat cows? The Herd from Melanie Light takes a dystopian look at the reality and horrors women would face if they found themselves in the same factory farming damnation that so many animals are forced to live from birth. This is a harrowing short film that will really put certain aspects of our modern day life into perspective, whilst making it easier for us to understand just what we’re doing when consuming products from cows. 

Trafficked and kidnapped, the pregnant women are locked into small, cramped and unsanitary cages which are their condemnation for the fact that their biology produces something that is in high demand; breast milk. The captors and scientists of the medical facility see that it’s fair and humane to keep these women shackled against their will and abused for their breastmilk, and don’t seem to be able to fathom just how immoral and disgusting it is to keep them in such squalid conditions.

This short extreme horror film stars Pollyanna McIntosh, who you will know from The Walking Dead and one of my personal favourite female-empowering rape revenge films, The Woman. It seems that McIntosh is quite the champion when it comes to starring in films that show the power women have and bring provoking and controversial topics to the forefront. Which is exactly what Light aims to do with her short horror The Herd. It’s a vegan feminist horror film; but don’t let any of those words suddenly turn you away from it. There certainly seems to be a stigma around anything labelled as “vegan” or “feminist” but this one really brings some important issues to a head and makes the audience understand the reality that animals are being forced into.

When seeing the pregnant women used and abused, it turns our stomachs and shocks us; it’s a disturbing concept for us to try and imagine. Light uses the horror genre to tell the story of a controversial topic that doesn’t seem to be cutting through the fat with many of us who are still consuming meat. She shows how female cows are being bred, which is a loose term as they are usually raped through artificial insemination, to be used as a milk machine for humans to continue demanding and consuming, regardless of how dangerous it could be on their bodies. This milk is only available from the female species, and when they are pregnant, and therefore this circle of abuse has to continue and be forced upon them in order for us to get our milk, which is exactly the situation presented to us in the short, yet replacing cows with humans.

It’s an intelligent piece of filmmaking that doesn’t just aim to shock the viewer through disturbing content, it aims to be more relevant in this day and age and make people more aware of something that is a daily occurrence. Light has worked on a few other shorts for TV, and in other departments for some incredible horror films including art department on The Autopsy of Jane Doe, but after seeing this short, I’d love to see what she does next. The Herd is a societal shocker that puts the controversy of factory farming and milking into a horrific human perspective.

Verdict: 5 out of 5

You can follow Melanie Light on Twitter.

You can watch The Herd on Vimeo here.

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