Here are my reviews of the AFTER DARK Shorts program from the Chicago International Film Festival. There were six films in total.
Directed by Santiago Menghini
The program started on a dark, somber note with Regret, a film that looks at the horror of just that; regret.
Following the death of his father and deciding to not attend his funeral, Wayne (Brent Skagford), must survive the manifestations of his inner demons over the course of a dreary night. Director Santiago Menghini starts the film slow, showing Wayne hanging out in a quiet, eerie hotel room after getting off the phone with his sister, telling her he won’t be attending the funeral.
But once the demon shows up is when the short kicks into gear and it is a terrifying, yet sad experience. The demon is truly haunting and the film packs a powerful punch at the end. This is a movie that makes you think about the power of regret, death, and dealing with the demons that lurk inside all of us.
Directed by Ariel Zengotita
Flick is a short about a reclusive college student who picks his nose one day while watching a monster movie. However, he can’t just flick this booger away. The booger is stuck to his finger and the college student is driven mad by this.
Flick isn’t nearly as fun or funny as it sounds and is actually kind of gross. Nate Pringle, who plays the college student, gives a maddening performance as he tries everything in his power to get this booger off his finger. Why the booger wouldn’t leave the finger is interesting, yet they don’t do enough with it. Overall, Flick doesn’t succeed as a gross out body horror movie nor a horror comedy.
Directed by Jennifer Lumbroso
The Doe was my most frustrating watch in this program, yet my frustrations could have been fixed with a few more minutes tacked on to it.
The Doe is about a young woman named Hélène who gets into an argument with her boyfriend. She flees into the countryside on an icy day and finds herself thrown into a world she doesn’t know.
Much like our main character Hélène, I didn’t know what was going on. The film just seemed like it was Hélène running around like a rabid animal. There is a moment where she is mistaken for an animal of some sort – thanks to the fur coat she is wearing – and unintentionally gets shot and is taken back to a random house, but they seemed like men who wanted help her, not hurt her. The final scene is bizarre and only made things a little more confusing
The thing is, though, The Doe isn’t boring. In fact, I would have been down for an additional five minutes or so to tie it all together. Instead, The Doe flew over my head and I didn’t know why anything was happening.
LAURA HASN’T SLEPT
Directed by Parker Finn
Laura (Caitlin Stasey) hasn’t slept because she keeps having the same nightmare. The nightmare features a man who continuously asks Laura to look at his face. Laura knows that if she goes back to sleep, she will see his face and she fears she might die if she sees it. Laura seeks the help of a psychiatrist with this, yet her session doesn’t go as planned.
This is an excellent short. I was hooked from the very beginning and the film only got better as it went on. It’s thrilling from minute one and only gets creepier and weirder. The final moments of the film are truly horrifying and really ended it on a high note. Stasey gives a wonderful performance and I was most impressed with the set design, sound, and music. Laura Hasn’t Slept is a great short film.
Directed by Jasper de Bruin
Nightingale was very strange and started off a little slow, but ended with a bang. The film follows an over-worked nurse during her night shift at a nursing home. During this night, she is being stalked by a mysterious figure as she aimlessly goes about taking care of her patients. She soon realizes that she is being stalked and must go to the extreme to fight it off.
Nina Fokker gives a strong, compelling performance as our tired nurse and director Jasper de Bruin really builds an atmosphere and mood of creepiness and eeriness that makes for an insane, but great finale. It takes a bit to get there, but Nightingale is worth the wait.
Directed by Ariane Boukerche
This was far and away my least favorite of this program. They Salivate starts with a couple very graphically making out and a woman spitting the saliva from the make-out into a cup. Flick was gross, but this was vile.
But what transpires throughout the twenty-minute runtime goes even beyond that. Copious amounts of saliva are exchanged between humans in bizarre ways. Once someone has a taste for this saliva, they become rabid and must make-out with the next person they see, and so on, and with each make-out producing more and more saliva from not only their mouths. It’s revolting, but also bland.
Nothing about They Salivate works. It’s as boring as it is gross.
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