When tragedy strikes, creativity flourishes. Horror films, in particular, have always helped us process our fears by placing a fictional lens over our real-world concerns. Even if we can’t change our reality, art helps us process it.
The coronavirus has stopped the world in a way most of us have never experienced, and it was only a matter of time before filmmakers picked up their cameras to express their feelings about the virus, lockdowns, and the ongoing isolation affecting us all.
The folks at Fantaspoa Film Festival understood that need for expression when they launched a contest earlier this year that challenged filmmakers from around the gold to create pandemic-related stories from their homes. Now, the top fifteen films are making their world premiere at the Chattanooga Film Festival (May 22 – 25 online) as THE PANDEMIC ANTHOLOGY.
From Skype calls at the end of the world to Satanic rituals gone comically awry, THE PANDEMIC ANTHOLOGY is a fascinating look at our response to tragedy in real-time. But while the subject matter may be dark, the creativity on display in these films is a cause for celebration. Each short was created while following social distancing guidelines with only the resources the filmmakers had on hand. However, these restrictions are nowhere to be seen on the screen.
The way each short tackles the theme varies wildly, but viewed as a whole, certain refrains emerged. Not surprisingly, the most common theme that runs throughout the anthology’s 85-minute runtime is isolation. No matter your personal experience with coronavirus, we’ve all been affected by stay at home orders and that profound loneliness permeate these films. The result is a new brand of domestic horror warped by confinement. We’re lucky to live in a digitally connected world, but as these shorts reveal, seeing each other on a screen and being in the same room is very different.
Some of the most effective scares come when characters are alone and unable to help their loved one, like in “Sometimes She Comes Back.” “Stain on the Wall” capitalizes on the gothic nature of solitude. But it was the gallows humor of the comedic segments that stuck with me after the screening. The “Stupidemic” creators focused on the zombie-like belief in government messaging, while “Baldomero” explores the ambiguities of online dating with hilarious results.
No matter your tastes, if you’re ready to confront the horrors of the pandemic, THE PANDEMIC ANTHOLOGY has a segment waiting just for you.