Revenge horror is one of the trickiest subjects to pull off in a unique way to break the typical film formula. My favorite film of the last year was Promising Young Woman, so I knew when picking which short block to write for The Final Girls Berlin Film Festival this year, I wanted to take the Eye for an Eye category. This festival always has the most thought-provoking block titles, and this year was no exception. Would these short films provide me with enough twists and turns to make revenge horror feel fresh and exciting? Let’s discuss!
There Will Be Monsters
Monsters exist. They live inside us. And sometimes, they win.
There Will Be Monsters starts off as the systemic formula of “girl being harassed by a bunch of men on the street.” The audience might assume they know where the film is going, but then BOOM, it’s not at all what they think. The short was directed by Carlota Pereda, who knows how to play with the mind, and does so twice within a 5 minute period. This short feels like a meal you burp after in a way of paying compliment to the chef.
Scout, an Aboriginal woman living in regional New South Wales, was kidnapped out of nowhere from the safety of her own home. These days, her life is confined to a shipping container with two women, Andy, a young naïve Aboriginal woman and Jodie, a staunch black woman who is always on hand to give Scout and Andy a dose of reality. They suffer dehumanizing treatment until one day they band together and fight their oppressors.
Scout stays true to the subgenre rules. However, Director Kodie Bedford delivers us some badass females. You know where the story is heading, but how it all unfolds is key. The final minutes of Scout are worth the price of admission. Revenge is best served bloody.
LA CAZA/The Hunt
Alba, an elderly woman living with her daughter, is unhappy with the way her daughter’s partner treats her. When she finds herself alone with him, she will have to decide how far she is willing to go in order to save her most loved one from a life of suffering.
I liked Amy Fajardo’s La CAZA. It’s a bit different then the other shorts being that an elderly woman is the one seeking the revenge. Teresa del Olmo as Alba… beyond fantastic. She portrayed every emotion with her eyes, made for a very real and authentic performance, the sadness, anger, and rage all rolled into one. Is what we are seeing really transpiring, or is it going to transpire? I dug it.
Girls’ Night Out of Body
In homage to spooky slumber party games, these girls eat a haunted piece of candy, and it becomes a race to see what will get them first — the black-gloved killer stalking them, the evil unlocked from the candy, or any of the other perils that await girls at sleepovers in horror films.
Girls’ Night Out of Body is one I instantly recognized from the horror anthology, Scare Package (read our review here)! It was one of my favorite shorts for the film. I think the premise behind it is really cool, mixing a demonizing candy sucker with a slasher. The slumber party theme is always welcome in my book, especially when it has a unique take such as this. The cool concept alone from Hillary and Courtney Andujar gets major kudo’s from me!
A woman walking alone in the middle of the night becomes the target of a man’s harassment. Just when things get dire, a mighty entity interferes.
RONG is, by far, the most grotesque short of the bunch, without question with those cringe scenes. I would even say it’s borderline extreme horror. Ancoe Amar is what nightmares are made of when a woman is walking alone in a dark alley or hall. I love that it does a 180 and he 100% gets what is coming to him. Indira Iman directed this with straight gut punches, and it leaves a lasting impression.
The Fourth Wall
Doomed to star in one last performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a down-on-her-luck actress fights for her moment in the spotlight amongst the self-serving newcomers. How far will she go to be the star of the show?
Although every one of these shorts were a blast to watch, The Fourth Wall is the one that captivated me. I love how all the lines blur, and we question: do we have a reliable narrator? I love that it goes from speaking French to English. One of the lines of dialogue that gave a chuckle also had so much depth to the lead character: “I even speak better English then her.” The final act is one for the books. I wish this one had been a full length feature. With a similar contrast to Darren Aronofsky and Gaspar Noe, Filmmaker Kelsey Bollig (read our interview with her here) is going to be a visionary, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with in the future!