“Haunted Love” is a single released by Nashville’s own synthpop duo Future Unlimited. This song was originally released in October 2012, but its music video is set to be released on May 14th via the Rolling Stone’s website, so keep an eye out. Aside from the haunting (pun unintended) synth rhythm, moving drum beat, ethereal lyrics and over all 80’s feel, what makes the music video special? Having watched it, multiple times, I can tell you this short film/music video is nothing short of a masterfully crafted story wrought with symbolism and allusions that complement the song wholly. I may have forgotten to mention that it was also directed by Shia LaBeouf. Here is the song in case you are unfamiliar with it:
It is all too well known that Shia is no stranger to music videos. In the last video he was in, he bared it all on screen (See: Sigur Rós – “Fjögur piano”). If you thought you saw all of Shia in that video, wait until you see this one. No I don’t mean you see more of him physically (since he’s not in the video), but you get see more of him as an artist and director. In the end, I feel that’s better than seeing his penis, although I didn’t mind seeing his penis all that much either.
The short film begins with a scene of violence, a woman being beaten by a man we can only assume is her husband. Then we are taken to a wide shot of both of them at opposite ends of a dinner table with a child crawling on the floor and a portrait of Eugene Delacroix’s Medea behind them all. Of course the story of Medea has a strong presence throughout the video since it also shows how the cycle of violence is sometimes inherent in strong, passionate relationships. Like the story of Medea, sometimes it can end in filicide.
After that powerful scene, the female, who was seen earlier getting beaten and now revealed is missing most of her left arm, says some dialogue to set the scene:
“Mother told me to get a restraining order. Move, the police told me after my jaw was wired shut. Let the authorities handle it said my sister. They’ll know, she said. He likes his chili hot.”
After that, we are thrown into a roller coaster of death, violence, mutilation and interpretive dancing. This is an experience that is better felt and seen instead of described, so I will only mention a few things that stuck out for me. This is not just a story of a battered woman getting revenge on her abusive husband. We see into her past and learn that she hasn’t felt passion in her relationship for a long time now. Then the birth of her child only made things worse by bringing with him a heavy bout of postpartum depression, which may include the woman seeing her vagina as a source of unhappiness. The lack of release to all these events building up could only ever have ended in an explosion of sorts, which results in the murder of her husband, her child, and possibly her soul.
There is a cyclical dance that she does throughout the video that is both whimsical and eerie. It shows us the abusive cycle of love. First everything starts off at the wonderful honeymoon phase, and then keeps going into a deep passion and lust phase, but then the cycle turns tragic and violent, and after reconciliation, the cycle starts anew. The only way to break it is by leaving the relationship… or death.
This video, at least in my mind, shows us just how multi-faceted Shia is as an artist and entertainer. Enough so that I’ve almost already forgotten he was in the Transformers films. Shia’s visionary style is both beautiful and disturbing. Banksy said it best when he said, “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” Consider me happily disturbed.