I was lucky enough to be able to review many of the short films that played for audiences at the 2nd 2017 Final Girls Berlin Film Festival. The festival which runs from June 9th to June 11th features a wide array of horror films, horror shorts and horror programs fueled by creative female voices, from writers, and directors alike. This year, they ran the anthology “XX” and a myriad new female powered genre titles, along with a big block of short genre films with specific themes. These are a few of the shorts that played.
Wakey Wakey (2017)
“Is It Dead?” Block
The premise for Rebecca Gransbury’s short seems kind of centered on the ending and nothing more, but it’s a good testament to the power of the imagination. Two girls hide out in a morgue in an attempt to let loose with some wine. They’re surprised that there is a single body in the morgue and suddenly they begin to grow horrified when they swear they heard the body move. “Wakey Wakey” has a clever pay off, even if the scenario is far fetched.
The Perfect Shot (2017)
“Is It Dead?” Block
Natasha Leivers’s short entry is a creepy and simple installment where a young photography enthusiast sets out to get a good shot for her collage. While looking for the perfect shot, she comes across a mysterious scarecrow in a field. When she sets out to take a picture of it, she realizes she’s being stalked. Again it’s a fairly simplistic short with a neat set up and makes up for the lack of spooks with a nicely staged final scene.
Man in the Moon (2016)
“Mommy Issues” Block
Monique Mulcahy’s “Man in the Moon” is a spooky but very interesting tale with more of a science fiction bent. It reminded me a lot of an episode of “The Ray Bradbury Chronicles” where a young single mother realizes something is wrong with her son Lincoln. After some distortion with her radio, she notices her son Lincoln is talking to his weird science fiction video game, and refuses to take off his head phones. Soon she begins following him around as he grows more and more distant and is horrified to discover his video game isn’t quite a video game, and that her son is lurking around with various figured draped in darkness and preparing for something huge. Filled with great visuals and an ambiguous climax, this is a definite gem.
Willow Garden (2016)
“Sweet Revenge” Block
Kate MacDonald and Kendall Brunson’s short horror entry is an ambiguous revenge entry that will keep a lot of audiences trying to decipher what it means for hours. I saw it twice and I’m still not sure what the general idea was. Couple Mona and Keith venture out in to a wooded area by a lake to take a weekend of camping after a loss in their lives. As they do their best to have a good time, Mona swears she hears a growling emanating from the woods. Before long this paranoia culminates in to a confrontation with her husband involving a grave decision she was forced to make. It’s a very eerie short film with strong performances from the small cast, and it works in tone and atmosphere, and offers a very relevant narrative theme even if I was never sure what the final scene indicated.
“Dying of Laughter” Block
Rona Cohen’s dark comedy feels like a big build up to a joke with absolutely no punch line. There’s so much inexplicability to a movie that could have been quite weird. “Rotten” focuses on a spoiled little girl who hate tomatoes who is stuck with a grandmother for the weekend. She happens to be a gardening buff who adores tomatoes. Angered by her grandmother’s insistence on feeding her tomato based foods, she decides to end her problem by stealing an antique gun from her office. Cohen’s film is well directed, but there’s no real pay off or purpose to a lot of what occurs. It’s just a lot of silly situations and then the movie just fades to an end.
Drip Drop (2016)
Jonna Nilsson’s survival horror short benefits from its simplicity. A young woman who lives alone is horrified to learn that there is a hive of flesh eating alien leeches crawling from out of her drains. Alone and armed only with a butcher knife she attempts to fight them off as they surround her mercilessly. “Drip Drop” is a gross but creepy film with a great surprise ending. Nilsson is a sharp director I hope to see more from very soon.