Midnight movies are an absolute essential for a horror festival – those films that are best played to a slightly sleep-deprived and otherwise altered, but most importantly, enthusiastic audience.
Polly (Nicole Marquez-Davis) is nervous, but excited, about attending her first sleepover. As she settles into the ultra-pink surroundings, sing-alongs and pillow fights it looks like her worries were unfounded, until dark motivations emerge from her fellow attendees. Honestly, I don’t think you can really predict where Chicks is headed at all but the film cleverly seeds visual references throughout, resulting in a cohesive feel. The bizarre tone never lets up and it is very cool to see something so unashamedly girly with that underlying darkness.
Another of the Soho Horror Film Festival shorts I’d been lucky enough to see before, Meat Friend, as you can probably tell from the image above, is a difficult one to describe! Izzy Lee’s short is full of perfectly delivered one-liners from the titular Meat Friend. Just the perfect kind of film to watch with an audience to really appreciate every strange moment.
Big Weekend Plans
Tesha Kondrat takes a relatively simple concept about a woman deciding to end her life and takes it in a deadpan direction as her plans continue to go awry. At just over 5 minutes long the short is an ideal length to explore that idea, not needing to expand or fill the time, meaning every beat and scenario is pitched just right.
Maybe You Should Be Careful
Megan Robinson’s film features a break from the traditional narrative of a woman as a victim and swaps it so the male partner is preoccupied with a recent series of male disappearances in the area. Despite Alistair’s (Dan Beirne) concerns, June (Kelly McNamee) is keen to put a spark back into their dimming sex life, resulting in a series of misunderstandings. Both performers have excellent chemistry which makes this mainly dialogue-focused short work as they find themselves increasingly at odds. Those exchanges excellently weave doubt in the viewer, culminating in a great punchline.
Rebekka Johnson and Kate Nash take on triple duties in this hilarious short, writing, directing and performing. Johnson plays Barb – a woman who tightly wound TV news journalist Melanie (Nash) is sent to interview as part of a story about the impact of new development on the natural surroundings. Their interactions are great fun and paying attention to the background is so rewarding with a few excellently placed sight gags. Despite the laughs, there are also serious points to be made here in terms of the treatment of women and nature.
Rapid-fire dialogue underpins this witty, ever-escalating tale of two office workers desperate to secure a promotion. The barbs they throw at one another continue to grow in absurdity as they move around the cramped office space. At less than 5 minutes long, this is punchy and again, delivers a message along with sharp humour.
The Midnight shorts block screened as part of the Final Girls Berlin Film Festival 2023. Find out more about the festival at their webpage.