This year we were once again lucky enough to cover the Final Girls Berlin Film Festival, and though we came on a bit late, we were able to catch a shorts film block from the festival as well as some features! This year the shorts block was solid, and I took on the #MeToo shorts block. This list of short films covers the topics of sexual assault, rape, toxic masculinity the like.
The gallery of genre entries was great once again and I loved the substance these directors brought to film.
The Follower (2019)
Director Stephanie Szerlip modern interpretation of Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” was a swing and miss for me. Mostly a thriller, “The Follower” is much too ambiguous to be absorbed, and spends so much time on vague imagery that you’ll lose patience attempting to interpret its meaning. Gorgeous Logan Polish plays a young girl who is intent on exploiting herself on social networking.
When her mother finds her pictures, she grounds her for the day. While sunbathing, she’s approached by two young men in a beat up police car, who at first seem seductive but gradually show they have ill intent toward her. It’s an unnerving movie overall, but I wasn’t completely sold on the meaning and what Szerlip was aiming for, in the end.
I very much want to see director Louisa Weichmann give us a horror feature down the line, as “Gaslight” is not just a very relevant message about manipulation and power play of the attacker and the victim. It’s also a great horror film. Bar waitress April is celebrating an anniversary and decides to take a bus home one night after hours. While waiting she’s approached by a gentleman in a hot rod who is insistent on conversing with her and entices her to get in to his car.
In spite of her resistance, he reveals a darker side of himself that will leave April to fend herself against an unlikely predator. “Gaslight” is a great horror film and one that I think has feature length potential. I loved the performances as well as the excellent make up effects by Ella Keys, the stark social overtones, and the way the movie takes us down unexpected avenues in the finale. This is a great short genre gem deserving of a huge audience.
I could see where Yfke van Berckelaer’s horror thriller was going from miles away, but I still rather enjoyed the brief rape revenge plot. Blonde Lili is auditioning for a drama with a casting agent and is given strict orders on how to deliver her dialogue. As his demands become more rigid, he begins to implement his power on her as a means of physically taking advantage. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s a good dose of comeuppance with a great final scene that makes a statement about taking back power from the attacker.
Rape Card (2017)
One of the most disturbing and cringe inducing thrillers I’ve ever seen, “Rape Card” sets down on a society where rape is given more free reign than ever. With the use of a government supervised system, men are given a card which allows them to rape a woman of their choice, once. After branding them with their finger print, the woman is generally free of sexual danger afterward.
Now becoming something of a fashion statement among women, Frances is anxious to find her first rape and willingly puts herself in danger, all the while colliding with a young man who feels pressure by his peers to find his first attack and complete the program. Madeleine Sims-Fewer & Nathan Hughes-Berry’s thriller is a clear cut and stark statement about sexual assault, and how it’s treated in this world. Most of all it’s a clear cut exploration of how much rape culture is and can be accepted. With as much leeway men are given are we that far off from this scenario?
The Rat (2019)
Carlen May-Mann’s drama thriller is a great and profound statement about male privilege and how they can often wield the power in any situation and take advantage of a woman’s trust. On Halloween Night, young Renee who is in love with her boyfriend Jim plans to go to a party with him, but they decide to detour to a haunted house.
When Jim disappears during an inspection of the house, Renee faces a deep rooted fear that every woman most likely has to face. “The Rat” is an insightful and very heartbreaking short about how men can misuse the inherent trust that women place in them, and how it changes the dynamic in relationships. I can’t wait to see what else Carlen May-Mann has in store for movie fans down the road.
Woman in Stall (2018)
Madeleine Sims-Fewer & Dusty Mancinell’s thriller is a claustrophobic and brilliantly directed statement about the inherent danger every woman faces, even in places that are supposed to be safe havens for them. A young woman using the bathroom is confronted by a man outside of her stall who informs her she went in to the wrong bathroom. What begins as slight flirtation transforms in to a gradually threatening coercion where she has to rely on her wits to get past this threatening and imposing presence who might threaten her physical safety. “Woman in Stall” is tense, creepy, and downright nail biting and I loved it.