2/15/20: Updated with a review of Alexandra Serio’s TINGLE MONSTERS
What you just read in the title is a line that I felt was perfect for the collection of titles I chose for this piece. I’m not saying from where, provided you get to see the actual shortfilm, but if it grabbed your attention enough to get you here then…well, I thank you dearly.
Christina and I spent our weekend covering titles via online, all which screened over at this year’s installment of the Final Girls Berlin Film Festival. We each took in our share of shorts and features from different blocks; While normally horror is more or less Christina’s field of play, I decided to jump in and expand my horizons with some shortfilm review content of my own.
My feature reviews will come seperately, and you can catch Christina’s shortfilm review batch by clicking here. (Special thanks to Kaila Hier for quarterbacking the both of us).
Gigi Saul Gurrero stars opposite
Kasey Lansdale and Morgan Peter Brown in Izzy Lee’s new dystopian short, Re-Home. The short makes a slow and steady entry as we meet Maria (Gurrero), a Mexican-American woman on the run who seeks refuge at an affluent group home for her daughter in the wake of the U.S./Mexico borderwall’s completion.
Maria has her doubts at first but still chooses to settle into her new bearings and make nice with the home’s owners, Laura (Lansdale) and Matt (Brown), eventually sitting down and having a tasty dinner. Things take a grisly turn for the worst for Maria as she eventually comes to witness the true nature of the home she and her daughter are about to fall prey to.
Clocked in at about eight minutes, Re-Home offers levels of proper cringe that fire on all cylinders from nearly start to finish. The short offers plenty in its tone and look that it far lessens the need for any gore in its delivery, but rather endulges in a freakish and chilling allegory on the extenuating fears minorities face in America without taking itself too seriously.
Samantha Timms’ 2018 short made the rounds at Final Girls Berlin this year with a story that encompasses a number of things in its narrative. At the heart of it all lies the consequential nature of a traumatic childhood, topped with psychological deterioration, and cosigned with an almost supernatural presence.
The short takes off ad we witness the flashbacking tale of John (Bob Newman), a decrepit, slouching old man freshly arrived at a train station. He appears to often adhere to bibilical texts in a scrappy notebook to help keep him stable, and he eventually befriends a young boy with a stuffed cow, which ultimately changes the entire course of his day.
Shots of his younger self, roped into an upbringing of hardship and depravity unfold as we learn more about the bleak and grisly nature of how John came to be, and how his latest exposure to the world around him starts to affect him. It’s intriguing as it is chilling in its gruesome depiction with Timms effectively proving her viability in the director’s chair.
THE VAMPIRE OF SOHO
Crafted as a prequel to an upcoming feature, writer and director Andy Edwards’s new shortfilm centers on an idealistic young girl named Mel (Amelia Bennett), whose latest round of table talk with former lover Roxy (Nic Lamont) reveals the thickened, layered nature of her latest romantic endeavor with a goth band frontman named Billy (Sam Francis Harman).
The chat is a lesser-received deal for Mel whose arrival to London comes out of a need for better, more open circles for her to love who she wants to, and ultimately be herself. Nic’s concerns for Mel are finite in her awareness, but almost prevalent in that she suspects there’s a darker force at work. She never really knows it though, except for the audience as the film cuts to key flashbacks, including a major turning point when Billy reveals his true intent.
As far as proof of concepts go, Edwards’ treatment here offers a hearty sample of black comedy and intense, world-building intrigue that horror fans can sink their teeth into.
ZOMBIOSI (no artwork)
A roaring operatic finale by Giacomo Puccini encapsulates the eight-minute dramatic short from The Kill Screen Films duo Cris Gambín and Toni Pinel, telling of a woman who we first see running into a field after a man crying with a severed hand hanging around his neck. The woman gains on him and goes straight to work, basically just hacking him to death with a hatchet, splashing the copious amounts of blood that she goes to wash off in the shower after.
This is a woman who previously led a happier life with her loving boyfriend, and now she’s left to doing whatever she needs to in order to complete a task. Zombiosi makes certain to highlight exactly what that task is, conveying a twisted and grisly love story that hands you a visual coin toss for the definition of tragedy, and what love truly means. It’s as poetic and beautiful as it is bizzare and unsightly if you don’t have strong stomach.
Clocked in at a little over ten minutes, webby award-winner, actress and filmmaker Alexandra Serio’s ten-minute shortfilm stands as a glaring, brutal allegory for female-centric abuse in society. The film takes off with Serio in the role of Dee, a YouTube personality newly moved into her apartment and returning to her ASMR online community with her smartphone as part of her skeletal temp setup.
The remainder of the film is a slow, progressive, and menacing immersion into complete mania as the plot thickens. You’re compelled to keep a close eye on Dee, the increasing speed of the chatstream after she leaves, and the comments which eventually spiral into entropy. A deep message lays thick in the aftermath of this exciting and enthralling conversation starter, and should inherently be the feature film horror fans deserve.