Women in horror were proudly honored at this year’s Horror Imaginings Film festival. NADINE, LUNARCY, HE LIKES IT ROUGH, and LA QUINCEAÑERA were showcased and featured strong female characters and plenty of gore. Each film had themes of empowered women getting revenge and provided a satisfying conclusion that many women don’t always experience in reality. Justice is served in bloody ending for the men that stand in their way.
NADINE provides a gratifying story of one woman’s fight for freedom. In a dystopian future, Nadine, and ECHOS like her, live as slaves to men. Cooking, cleaning, and fucking on command, these women are objectified, abused and treated without dignity. In a seemingly supernatural occurrence, Nadine gets to her boiling point and develops an ability which helps her escape her nightmarish conditions. In addition to the high production value and quality of this short, what makes NADINE so powerful is the social commentary that is made on the marginalization and oppression that women face in society. The real horror of this film lies in the relatable sexist world that Nadine resides in. NADINE isn’t full of jump scares and blood, but provides a thrilling and suspenseful view into one woman’s fight for survival. “I’m not hiding anymore”.
LUNARCY is a suspenseful art house short film playing on themes of finding out one’s place of comfort is not safe. Weird occurrences being to evoke suspicion in the protagonist that something is not right. Using unique camera angles and close ups, audience members must piece together an idea of what sinister forces lurk in the shadows. LUNARCY provides an artistic view of horror films and offers suspense as audience member’s are left feeling just as bewildered as the protagonist in what is occurring. Lack of dialogue challenges audience members to create their own narrative in this thrilling short.
The last short in the collection, HE LIKES IT ROUGH provides a gratifying story of a woman’s revenge after an encounter gone wrong. After a woman is assaulted, she considers reporting it to the authorities but decides to take matters into her own hands in this short film. Utilizing black magic, a woman uses her powers to take revenge on her perpetrator. With high production quality, comic relief and relatable narrative, HE LIKES IT ROUGH is a play off the old adage “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” that everyone can enjoy.
The feature film, LA QUINCEAÑERA is maybe best described by it’s director as a latino Kill Bill. This slasher film utilizes humor, gore, feminist ideals, and Mexican culture in a way that adds a unique and delightful spin on the horror genre. On the surface, LA QUINCEAÑERA recounts a story of family living in a small town in Texas that make a deal with a drug cartel to supplement their income. They find out that they have gotten in over their heads when a conflict is brought to a 15 years old girl’s birthday party with fatal results.
Underneath the bloodshed and gore, there is a coming of age story of a girl who must break with tradition to become who she needs to be. Through her struggle, she finds a way to honor her roots and her dreams as she metamorphizes from a girl into a strong and powerful woman. Throughout the film, strong female protagonists are portrayed and celebrated. From the Abuelita, to the boss of the cartel, to the 15 year old, and the daughter of the cartel boss, strong, independent, and bad-ass women are highlighted significantly throughout the film. In addition, Mexican culture and values lay a foundation to the film and provide a layer to the story of a second-generation immigrant family’s struggle in entrepreneurship to obtain the American Dream. In a political climate that is heightened with sexist and anti-immigration sentiment, this film adds something refreshing and uplifting to the horror genre.
In it’s current form, this film utilizes episodes that create segments with their own plot arch and cliff hangers that makes LA QUINCEAÑERA extremely addictive to watch. Characters in the film are well developed and lovable which facilitates a connection with the audience. It’s difficult to single out a particular actor as the entire cast delivers a compelling and notable performance. There is a well balanced shift between comic relief and bloody gruesome and emotionally heavy content that makes this film easily consumable. It’s fast paced narrative and cliff hanger endings make it particularly binge worthy.
Overall, this film is particularly exceptional and entertaining. Of all the films I’ve seen at the Horror Imaginings Film Festival this year, LA QUINCEAÑERA has been my personal favorite that I would recommend to any fan of horror. Even with a lower budget, LA QUINCEAÑERA delivers a lovable, light hearted, yet gruesome and bloody narrative with multiple layers of plot and character development. Within the coming months, LA QUINCEAÑERA is planned to be released to public audiences with an idea for an upcoming season 2. From my estimation, LA QUINCEAÑERA is likely to translate well to even movie buffs outside the horror community due to it’s addictive narrative and compelling characters.