The North Bend Film Fest 2022 hosted numerous horror shorts, all with different styles and approaches that really sum up the current creativity in short filmmaking within the genre.
Darker is a hugely atmospheric and eerie piece. Based around a young girl called Rhena whose father disappears after telling her the legend of Atlas, this has the feel of a dark fairytale. That sense of something magical but also sinister is really captured here. Adriana Bakker’s performance as Rhena fits perfectly for the overall tone. The whole construction of this is excellent, from the central concept to the handling of imagery.
They See You
They See You is a short that both works well within its runtime while also showing the potential for a wider, longer story to be told. Starting with a panicked phone call from Dina to her sister Robin drawing her to a remote location, this creates an instant tension. As the reasons for Dina’s call begin to surface the fractured relationship between the sisters becomes clearer. Despite a stripped-back nature of this it really delivers on some great effects and a strong narrative that grips all the way through.
A candy-coated period piece with a real punch, especially concerning women’s bodily autonomy. The attention paid to the 1972 details and styling gives this a fun presentation. Throughout, the balance is perfectly pitched between a fun horror film with plenty of nods to other films from the period it reflects without becoming too referential and a potent social message, which is incredibly difficult to pull off. Helena Berens’ performance as Donna, a student who finds herself undergoing an unusual pregnancy underpins it all, offering sympathy for her predicament while retaining a sparky, spiky personality. There is a justified anger at the heart of the film that lends it a great energy.
Black Dragon (Rồng đen)
As with Baby Fever, Black Dragon is a short that uses genre conventions to address history and the current implications of that history. Starting with a frenetic Vietnam war-time sequence, the film really delves into the claustrophobic paranoia as a group of soldiers take a young girl hostage. There is an almost overbearing sense of dread throughout the film as the situation progresses. An incredibly sobering post-script at the film’s end offers further weight to the scenes before, really allowing it to linger in the viewer’s mind.
Death in a Box
As far as short film titles go, this may well be the winner. Even better, the sci-fi/horror concept that accompanies that title is captivating, managing to draw out its true nature, keeping the viewer guessing until a conclusion that becomes visually arresting and deeply scary. The visuals throughout are excellent, with the floating box a simple, yet compelling idea for it to rest on. Ava (Sloan Mannino) and Samara’s (BreeAna Miyuki Eisel) early interactions feel convincing and well-realised.
Walking home alone at night as a woman is rarely fun, Adrienne’s (Anita Abdinezhad) experience is even worse. Abandoned by her controlling boyfriend about the work party they have just attended, a scooter provides a quicker way of navigating the night. When she stops for food she notices a woman may be being held captive in a van and has to act quickly before harm is done. Interestingly, despite probing the fears of being a woman alone at night, this takes a wholly different direction that while being less serious, still delivers an engaging narrative with memorable moments.
Find out more about the North Bend Film Fest.