On the final day of the Horror Imaginings film festival a block of long form short films were featured. Roughly 30 minutes long, these short films provided self-contained narratives that presented thrilling and suspenseful trials of protagonists coming face to face with evil. Although these films all played on themes of horror and fear, they provided differing motifs, production design, and style, which allowed for a diverse showcase.
In Deafening Darkness a woman seeks to uncover the mystery behind the disappearance of her friend but finds her curiosity jeopardizes her own health and wellbeing. Using an all-deaf cast, Deafening Darkness provides representation of the deaf community in horror films and adds an aspect of diversity that deepens the narrative. In particular, seeing deaf individuals perform poetry and engage in discussions regarding utilizing facial expression in sign language provides a layer to the film that offers unique insight into the character’s experience. Adding the aspect of deaf characters also adds to the dramatic irony, as only the audience can hear the dangers that await the protagonist. However, the dramatic irony could have been utilized more to heighten the suspense of the film. Deafening Darkness did not depict a typical horror villain and provided the villain’s backstory, which allowed the audience to empathize with the perpetrator. Themes of family and stigma placed on deaf individuals were commented on and deepened the narrative. The use of lighting, suspense, and character development made this film a special offering at this years Horror Imaginings film festival.
Instinct depicted the relationship between a young successful temptress and seemingly lonely crone who owns an art gallery. This film is exceptional. The characters were compelling and mysterious. Light and dark were used to contrast the temptress from the crone archetype. Themes of power, dominance, submission, and control were utilized subtlety and not in a typical way an audience would expect. The color red and use of blood was a thread that connected throughout the film to create uncomfortable foreshadowing. Actresses Christine Kellogg-Darrin and Jordan Monaghan gave a powerful performance and interacted with one another in a way that created a suspenseful dynamic. Instinct is surprising and utilizes powerful images that will haunt the audience long after viewing.
On a lighter note, KISS THE DEVIL IN THE DARKNESS, is a campy and traditional take on horror. This film depicts a Faustian story about a pact with the devil gone wrong. After a warlock’s wife dies, he agrees to provide the devil four souls to return his wife from hell back to the world of the living. Actor Doug Jones, from Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, and The Shape of Water, is featured playing the devil. The costume design and use of special effects is notable in this film. The acting is silly and exaggerated for comedic effect that heightens aspects of campy sentiment. Due to the short duration of the film, the character development of the supporting characters and how they obtained their super powers is lacking. However, it is implied that themes of good and evil and light and dark magic are played out. The film ends with an opportunity to continue the story with a sequel that will further develop the narrative.
THE QUIET ROOM is fantastic. It recounts the story of a suicidal man who is placed on a 72 hour hold and learns of Hopeless Hatti, the evil spirit that haunts the hospital’s Quiet Room. Thrilling and suspenseful, this film plays on the powerlessness and helplessness of patients in controlled hospital setting that are subject to the will of an evil spirit during their stay. However, metaphorically the film suggests that patients of the hospital are also facing their inner demons that continue to haunt them from a traumatic past. THE QUIET ROOM creates a cast of relatable, diverse, and lovable characters that develop a friendship through adversity of being in a hospital after a traumatic event and being re-traumatized by Hopeless Haddy during their stay. THE QUIET ROOM provides representation of an LGBT and interracial couple in a horror film. Among the actors, Alaska Thunderfuck, famous drag queen and winner of RuPaul’s All Stars Season 2, and Jamal Douglas provide notable performances. Overall this film is highly successful due to a compelling narrative, high quality production design, and exception acting that fans of horror will likely celebrate.
Horror Imagining film festival concludes its third day on a high note by showcasing 4 long form shorts that add unique twist of the horror genre.