‘The Cub’ Takes a Unique Approach to Childrearing

By  · Published on February 21st, 2017

Short of the Day

It’s like ‘Madeline’ meets ‘The Grey.’

Parents typically want nothing but the best for their children: the best upbringing, the best education, the best opportunities, the best future et cetera. But in an increasingly-competitive world, intelligence and acumen alone simply aren’t enough for success. Kids today need an angle on their intelligence, they need experiences that cause them to stand out among the herd of book-learned graduating masses. Something like world travel, community service, a special skill or hobby, or, you know, being raised by wolves.

That’s the premise of The Cub, a fascinating and slightly frightening short film from writer-director Riley Stearns in which a pair of parents, wanting the best for their five-year-old daughter who’s already displaying signs of advanced intelligence, decide to give her over to a pack of wolves so they might finish her rearing, in turn giving her a unique experience to distinguish her from her future competitors. When they return 10 years later, however, well, let’s just say you can take the girl out of the pack but you can’t take the pack out of the girl.

I discovered The Cub after recently watching Stearn’s feature, Faults, which I enjoyed so much I wanted to see more of the director’s work, and The Cub does not disappoint. It generates a feeling similar to that of a Yorgos Lanthimos film, specifically The Lobster – which it precedes in release – and that kind of sweet absurdity of narrative blended with a very natural, simple, and graceful cinematography (by Michael Ragen) that somehow balances the film’s oddity with reality and centers it in a space we can understand.

The Cub was made in 2013 – and selected for 20-some film festivals, including Sundance – and Faults was released the year after. There’s nothing currently listed in production on Stearns’ IMDB page, but I hope that’s probably because he’s busy whipping up his next project. In the meantime, get your eyes all over The Cub, then when you finish, hop over to Netflix where Faults, starring the always-captivating Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Smashed), is currently streaming.

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