Portland Horror Film Festival Review: Short Film Round Up

I Live Alone

Year: 2021

Runtime: 24 minutes

Director/Writer: Krsy Fox

Actors: Bonnie Aarons, Nyaling Marenah, Krsy Fox, Radek Lord

Kicking off the start of Portland Horror Film Festival 2021 is a great group of short films, including these three by women directors. “I Live Alone” (2021) is a cleverly plotted slow burn of suspense and increasing horror that has a whiff of Lovecraft about it. Parker (Nyaling Marenah) is being sent away while her mother is in the hospital. Since her parents are divorced and her father is no longer in contact, she has little choice but to try to get along with her distant, and distinctly odd, Aunt Len (Bonnie Aarons). Her house is decaying and she has some peculiar ideas but Parker keeps herself together with the help of long phone calls to her boyfriend, Josh (Radek Lord).

The film spirals into the increasingly surreal with a twist ending that does not quite make sense. However, it’s a fun ride and Aarons makes Aunt Len a complex mix of sympathetic and foreboding, lending some nice chills in the process. Marenah gives Parker a strong sense of inner strength but also is quite touching in her sorrow over what she perceives to be betrayal by Josh. Director Fox makes a quick appearance as a neighbor which ramps up the graphic horror of the film. “I Live Alone” is as quirky as Aunt Len and a gruesomely good time.

Tinder Tango

Year: 2021

Runtime: 7 minutes

Director: Cecelia Robles

Writers: Cecelia Robles, Jordi Cabellero

Actors: Cecelia Robles, Jordi Cabellero

It is so hard to meet a nice guy these days. “Tinder Tango” (2021) is a sly look at the potential dangers of hooking up on social media. With a runtime of only seven minutes, it is seductive, satiric and oh yes, smoking hot with a killer dance sequence. The key word there was “killer.” Cecelia Robles has a great sense of timing and her usage of special effects is minimal with a big impact. A homage to “Nosferatu” (1922) with a threatening shadow is ominous before our female lead, Esther (Robles) joins her new beau in a sexy, slow tango to the song, “La Vie En Rose.” Perhaps seeing the world through rose colored glasses is not prudent in the age of the Internet, as “Tinder Tango” suggests. Stay for the ending credits because they’re unexpectedly hilarious.

Diabla

Year: 2019

Runtime: 15 minutes

Director: Ashley George

Writer: Alonso Diaz-Rickards

Nayeli (Ruth Ramos) is a poor girl living in a rundown neighborhood in Mexico. When a former member of the village returns from the US bragging about his life there, it is a sure sign he has brought trouble with him. “Diabla” (2019) is a heart wrenching and mystical look at a young woman coping with the aftermath of a sexual assault. Ramos is especially touching as Nayeli, who has no one to turn to after her assault. Confiding in her brother Uriel (Daniel Fuentes Lobo) only brings her more pain as he sneers at her and dismisses her. Rayan (Cesar Mijangos) is a pitch perfect narcissist, completely self-assured in his ability to dominate.

What is poor Nayeli to do? Help comes in mysterious ways through unexpected allies. The most interesting part of how Nayeli’s revenge unfolds is how her brother pays for his lack of support of her, representing all men who are complicit in allowing sexual assault to go unpunished by blaming the victims. Director Ashley George makes a powerful statement and tells a wicked good horror story as well.

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