London Film Festival: First Look Reviews – Selected short films
CatcallsAfter flashing a couple of teenage girls, a man gets more than he bargained for in this well made horror from Kate Dolan. Like a lot of shorts, Catcalls feels a bit more like a scene from a feature that might be in its director’s future than a truly self-contained eight minute story, but that’s […]
Catcalls After flashing a couple of teenage girls, a man gets more than he bargained for in this well made horror from Kate Dolan. Like a lot of shorts, Catcalls feels a bit more like a scene from a feature that might be in its director’s future than a truly self-contained eight minute story, but that’s no bad thing in this case. Catcallsfits right in with not just the rising tide of female, and indeed feminist, driven horror but with topics that have been coming to the fore in the wake of the me too movement, but it applies horror movie logic and technique to them. I don’t want to give away where the film fits in terms of its subgenre, but Dolan has clearly looked at all the right films and taken all the right lessons from them; she’s got a good eye for a creepy image and gets value out of what must surely be a limited effects budget. This may only be a minimal twist on formula, but it’s playing with the issues in fun ways and I’ll be interested to see where Dolan goes from here.
Corvidae When Jay (Maisie Williams) sees a group of boys injure a crow she takes it home and tries to care for it, becoming deeply affected by the animal. Tom De Ville’s short film starts out in a realist place, with beautifully textured imagery of cold autumn days, with Williams (and De Ville and DP Maja Zamojda’s camera) out in nature, taking in little details like a metal nut found in a fallen bird’s nest. The images are almost tactile; the texture of bark, of muddy leaves underfoot, palpable. At a certain point, the film takes a turn for folk horror; reflected first in the masks we see the boys wearing. Thematically and in terms of imagery, this turn works well, technically it’s less successful, with budgetary constraints very obvious in the ropey CGI work. However, Williams’ all but silent performance is expressive and the beauty and detail of the imagery makes for an excellent calling card for De Ville and Zamjoda.
Fifteen In real time and almost entirely in close up, Fifteen focuses on how, within minutes, 15 year old Maria (Kelly Analy, completely credible) is affected when an intimate video of her goes viral within her class. This is very much a film about personal experience. When Maria first hears what’s happened, much of the conversation is in the background, the figures blurry as she tries to process. Director Peiman Zekavat wants to put us as far as possible inside Maria’s experience. When she’s told to go to the Principal’s office the camera walks behind her and the soundtrack just slightly emphasises her breathing, drawing the moment out and making plain the tension coursing through Maria. The Principal too is an indistinct figure, again because Maria is entirely in her head. This is very much a film about the flawed way we assign blame; Maria is the one shamed here, not the person who made the video public. It may be brief, but Fifteen is a sharp indictment of that part of our culture as well as an effective look at a traumatic moment in Maria’s life.
Inanimate This stop motion animation starts out modest, with Katrine and her boyfriend Patrick passing a normal day in their normal home, but the surrealism it slips into from there is beautifully captured, thought provoking and, for me, moving. All film means something different depending on the person watching it, so whether I’m interpreting it as director Lucia Bulgheroni intends I don’t know, but I took Inanimate as a film about the way the modern world can pass us by. Initially, time seems to rush past Katrine, with her only experiencing it in brief and increasingly dislocating moments. For me, the film’s best passage comes when that dislocation is fully realised. I’ve definitely felt that way; outside of myself and my life, and I think a lot of other people have too. This National film and Television School production is Bulgheroni’s first film, but it’s strikingly original and interesting. Consider her a name to watch.
Catcalls and Corvidae play in the Real Horrorshow shorts programme on Sunday 14th and Thursday 18th of October
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