Review: Dear Guest

Year: 2020 Runtime: 11 minutes Director: Megan Freels Johnston Writer: Megan Freels Johnston Actors: Ashley Bell, Noureen DeWulf By Joan Amenn The season of long, dark shadows can’t end now, when we have one last little gem of a scare to enjoy in “Dear Guest” (2020). Director Megan Freels Johnston concocted this quick potion of a disturbing “what if” scenario and although short, it packs … Continue reading Review: Dear Guest

Scottish Queer International Film Festival: Ashley

“Ashley” is the winner of the 2019/2020 Margaret Tait Award and is surprisingly complex for being a short film. Director Jamie Crewe, who also wrote and stars, gives an at times disorienting immersion into the mind of a deeply agonized and despondent soul. “Ashley” is brilliant in the use of sound to convey the inner turmoil of the title character’s struggle to affirm their identity. Continue reading Scottish Queer International Film Festival: Ashley

Greenpoint Film Festival Review: Ace

“Ace” (2020) is a wonderfully dark and atmospheric little tale perfectly animated in muted colours and stylized figure drawing. The setting is the “Eternity Circus” and various circus performers are costumed as playing cards. The Master of Ceremonies is brilliantly foreboding as he sets them in competition with each other to achieve a series of tasks. Continue reading Greenpoint Film Festival Review: Ace

Short Film Review: Innocence

Any parent of a developmentally disabled child will tell you the primary fear that keeps them up at night is what will happen to them when they are no longer alive to look after them. “Innocence” (2020) explores the world of group homes for adults with disabilities like the protagonist, Dylan (Tommy Jessup) who has Down Syndrome. Dylan’s brother James (Laurence Spellman) works at the home as an orderly as well and keeps an eye on Dylan. When a terrible crime summons the police to the home, the scrutiny uncovers some ugly secrets about the kind of life Dylan and the other residents have there. Continue reading Short Film Review: Innocence

Short Film Review: Intersect

“Intersect” is a tense, intriguing seven-minuted psychological thriller from 25-year-old, Chicago based filmmakers Cristina Siddu and Madeline Doherty. The set-up of “Intersect” may at first seem like your generic, horror ‘Girl Alone at Home’ narrative but Siddy and Doherty take you on an unexpected journey that captivates the viewer. The film’s twist ending will leave you much to puzzle about and speculate. What makes this such an intelligent short film is the fact that much of what takes place is left open to our interpretation, unlike other short horror films, “Intersect” doesn’t rely on gruesome, bloody violent imagery to shock the audience. Instead, the shot of a baby’s car seat in the middle of a road, becomes the scariest thing you’ll ever witness. Continue reading Short Film Review: Intersect

Short Film Review: Manara

The word “Manara” means lighthouse in Arabic. Zayn Alexander’s short film “Manara” takes place in a Lighthouse, following a family as they try to deal with the loss of their patriarch. The purpose of a Lighthouse is to offer light and guidence to us, so we can somehow navigate of way through rough waters. With “Manara” Alexander proposes the question: what happens when that light has become extinguished? What happens to those who now find themselves plunged into darkness, and now completely blind? How do we find hope when the very light that once offered us guidence has now been cruelly snatched away?

Often the strongest of short films centre around a simple premise which is carefully executed. “Manara” is a perfect example of how to carefully construct a short film narrative and Alexander along with writer Pascale Seigneurie manage to weave together a story which feels so real and genuine that we forget we are watching a film. Continue reading Short Film Review: Manara

Short Film Review: Carga

Creating a short film is a completely different feat than filming a feature. With a feature film, you have the luxury of time in order to build up plot and characters whereas with a short every second counts. Over the years, I have seen many short films and filmmakers attempt the horror genre and failing. Many forgo the plot and character for a ‘cheap’ and lazy jump scare and a complicated plot twist. Yad Deen’s “Carga” is a perfect example of how to use the short film format to weave together an electrifying, tense and dramatic short narrative which doesn’t sacrifice on character or background.

We fully believe that the events taking place in the film could happen in reality. The horror of “Carga” works because it’s not supernatural, but human. The tension builds up slowly, as the narrative unfolds and plays out in a natural manner which doesn’t feel forced. Not a single shot is wasted here, a testament to Deen’s direction and the flawless script by Deen and fellow writer Chesco Simón. Coming in at just under 20 minutes in length, this is a film that maintains the tense atmosphere throughout until the film’s satisfying ending. Continue reading Short Film Review: Carga