Taking something of a departure from the otherworldly elements of horror, the Close to Home shorts block features films that seek to explore everyday social, cultural and political concerns through the lens of horror.
Everybody Goes to the Hospital
Everybody Goes to the Hospital takes a distinctive animation style and marries it to an absolutely traumatising story of familial apathy and medical torment. Made all the more painful by hearing each detail in the voice of a child, the film unfolds in chapters that detail the medical issues of the girl, sometimes confused in her explanations as she tries to put together what is happening to her. Truly heartbreaking.
Merah Bawang Putih (Shallots & Garlic)
Generational divides, eating disorders and lockdown ennui all come together in this mix of family traditions and modern concerns. This adaptation of the folklore brings it to that modern setting and indulges in body horror (both external and internal, via calorie counts appearing on screen early in the narrative) along the way. An underlying soundtrack maintains a steady tension as the film unfolds.
Like Everybody Goes to the Hospital, Ethel makes use of textured stop-motion animation to explore the nature of unpacking trauma as a child. In Ethel, the discovery of a box of outfits leads to a disquieting, fantastical dance with her mother’s passions surfacing in interesting ways.
Seafoam excellently uses extreme close-ups to constrict space and imbue a real feeling of claustrophobia throughout. Director and performer Izzy Stevens infuses the metaphor into every frame, with each moment increasingly feeling like an intrusion. Form and meaning are built well, with the splits in images and those close-ups contributing to a discomfort that grows ever more intense.
I have been lucky enough to see Scooter a few times now and I appreciate it a little more each time. This story of a girl walking home alone at night is not what you expect and is all the more engaging for it. Anita Abdinezhad as Adrienne is a likeable screen presence and her reactions anchor the direction the film takes.
The Close to Home shorts block screened as part of the Final Girls Berlin Film Festival 2023. Find out more about the festival at their webpage.