This list is long overdue mainly because I spent the last week sick as a dog, but from June 9th to June 11th, the 2nd Final Girls Berlin Film Festival was held. It’s a great film festival to provide a voice for female horror filmmakers, and writers of all kinds from all over the world. This year I was allowed the opportunity to partake in a lot of their shorts and found some surprises.
The Room at the Top of the Stairs (2015)
Briony Kidd is slowly becoming one of my favorite working indie directors today, as she’s very devoted to delivering slow boil and subtle films. “The Room at the Top of the Stairs” begins feeling like a horror movie, but transforms in to a coming of age suspense film. A girl arrive at school to live in a shared house and is given the room at the top of the stairs that belonged to the roommate of the three roommates. With the roommates remnants left behind, she becomes obsessed with the circumstances of what led her to leave and why the roommates hated her. With a lot of the back story left ambiguous, “The Room…” is great short dark drama about carving out your own personality, and how sometimes people choose to demonize that concept rather than embrace it. By the end, it’s a promise of bigger more complex things and growth for our main characters.
Watch Me (2017)
“Sweet Revenge” Block
Briony Kidd’s short meta-drama is a fascinating bit of self aware fiction about the idea of fiction and the plain upon which characters exist in a story. What happens when the characters are no longer being watched? And what happens when one woman finds herself anxiously trying to maintain her world by consistently being viewed by someone, and anyone? “Watch Me” is very clever and a slick short.
Supper with the Smiths (2016)
“All in the Family” Block
I could see the surprise coming from Rachel Cylie Gross’s short a mile away, but it still manages to be a fun dark horror comedy. As the Smith family sits down for a dinner of ribs and potatoes, their daughter refuses to eat and has taken to vegetarianism. Despite her mom’s insistent and sobbing pleas, she settles for vegetables. Insistent on getting her to eat and follow along with the family, the Smiths are dead on getting their daughter to eat like them. It’s a short film that feels more like a three minute skit but it at least has a fun punch line.
Aurora Fearnley’s “Murmur” is a very ambiguous and somewhat mysterious thriller concerning a young girl struggling to break free from a mysterious community. Maybe it’s a commentary on female oppression, one can only guess. “Murmur” is thick with suspense as a young girl ventures out of the fences of her community to escape, despite her older friends’ insistence on going back and staying subservient. Despite their venturing out, they learn the community is harder to escape than they thought, but it doesn’t snuff out the main characters’ need for freedom. It’s a suspenseful and fascinating short, even if not particularly scary.
“Sweet Revenge” Block
Roxanne Bordeaux’s thriller is a very stark and gritty look at the endless cycle of sexual violence. Focusing on a young teen man named Lily, he’s subjected to an endless existence of monotony that involves being consistently preyed upon by his uncle. With a black snake and his devices in his shop, Lily begins planning his revenge, but Bordeaux dares to offer a less than satisfying or simple resolution perhaps demonstrating the effects of trauma with a haunting final scene.