The Final Girls Berlin Film Festival presented a shorts block guaranteed to raise heart rates and provoke intrigue. A mix of supernatural phenomena, claustrophobic traps and frantic chases await.
You Will See
A slow-moving creep-fest focused on a supernatural camera that gradually ramps up the tension to an almost unbearable degree. This is supported by lingering on the incredible detail in the photographs that pulls you into every frame. There is a constant sense of unease throughout that feels uniquely rattling, becoming as obsessed with the perfect shot as its lead character.
Face Not Recognized. Try Again.
It has been said that the now everyday use of mobile phones has taken a lot of previous tension out of horror films, with scripts having to find time to focus on why the phones do not work or take them out of the situation entirely. Face Not Recognised leans into the idea of the phone not always being a perfect solution. As a woman wakes up with her head encased she finds she cannot call for help because she cannot unlock the phone. For a relatively simple concept, this really dials up the tension and unpleasant details as she tries to free herself. The vastness of the forest surroundings and the fear of what could have been done and what lies within the casing sustain the concept brilliantly.
Nia Sol Nia Sombra (Neither Sun Nor Shade)
Another successfully stressful entry as Nerea (Yannick Vergara) finds herself in an altered state in the forest. Soon, she is proposed to, but this only seems to start a sequence of even more unusual events. This swirling, intentionally disorienting work unfurls the details as that tension rises, utilising the wide open space as a constant threat with themes of punishment.
Kickstart My Heart
Kickstart My Heart was easily my favourite short film of 2022 after a screening at the Soho Horror Festival so it was an absolute pleasure to see it again. Kelsey Bollig has delivered on every short film I’ve seen of hers so far and I’m very excited about her feature debut. Kickstart My Heart stands out for the dynamic way it deals with thudding action sequences and vibrant choreography while also weaving an intensely emotional narrative. Further added to by a credit sequence that confronts the viewer with just how personal the film is, this is horror being used perfectly as catharsis.
Kicking off with a pleading phone call from Zola to her ex-girlfriend, Unes establishes multiple sources of horror in the first few seconds. Zola’s boyfriend is seemingly transforming into something dangerous and she desperately needs to be away from him. The slaughterhouse setting adds an extra layer of discomfort as characters duck behind hanging animals throughout the chase. Cleverly, the film doesn’t dwell on the details of transformation, instead putting all of the focus on building the atmosphere. A great credits sequences ties everything together, allowing a deeper connection to the characters.
Phantasmagoria features a mysterious figure arriving in the wake of a death in the family. The family’s distance from the village allows the film to build this threat, keeping everything in close quarters. The emphasis on the verbal sparring between the younger woman and the stranger makes this gripping, continuously flipping motivations and the source of threat. The inherent claustrophobia of the house and the dim lighting all add up to a potent, stirring finale.
The High Tension shorts block screened as part of the Final Girls Berlin Film Festival 2023. Find out more about the festival at their webpage.