[FINAL GIRLS BERLIN FILM FESTIVAL] TRUE CRIME SHORTS BLOCK

Insha reviews the TRUE CRIME SHORTS BLOCK from Final Girls Berlin Film Festival. (Spoilers: She would like a full movie of LAST SEEN please.)

LAST SEEN

Directed by: Drew Van Steenbergen
Written by: Annie Powers & Drew Van Steenbergen
Starring: Anna Seregina, Greta Titelman, Megan Koester, Kelly Catey, Tim Taylor, Max Baumgarten, Mel Cowen

A true crime journalist creates a hit podcast about a murder… that she committed.

So, here’s the thing, I wanted this box of shorts specifically for this movie. I saw a slim preview of what it was about and was instantly intrigued. And guys, I. FUCKING. LOVED. IT.

If you gave me a full-blown movie about this, it’d instantly be my favorite film. This was extremely my shit, not only for the fact that it has the best yet story ever, but the way that it’s executed is beyond genius. Drew Van Steenbergen and Annie Powers create such an enthralling world that you can’t help but get sucked into with the lead characters. It’s hilarious, abrasive, mysterious, and crafty! It sucks you in as a true crime story does.

Even though you probably know how it’s going to end, you don’t expect the actions of what it takes to get there. As the lead character deep-dives and continues to murder (’cause her job depends on it), I was rooting for her along the way. I know I shouldn’t be, but I’m problematic, okay? Speaking of, Anna Seregina was so fucking brilliant in this. She’s deadpan but funny, and this character fits her like a glove.

Last Seen is for anyone interested in true crime. It’s for anyone willing to do whatever it takes to get that job they’ve always wanted. It’s for anyone who is a journalist and asking themselves, “How far would I go for this story?”


SOUTH SHORE

Directed & Written by: Xavier Hamel
Starring: Sylvie Léonard, Debbie Lynch White, Marie Cantin, Francis Ducharme, Catherine Paquin-Béchard

A woman witnesses a terrible crime but doesn’t say anything about it.

South Shore is a soft yet critical look at the bystander effect, or when someone witnesses a crime but they don’t participate or do anything about it. South Shore was anxiety-inducing, yet moving in the way it tells the story of a woman who is a witness to the crime in the narrative. You’re almost prepared to shake the woman at some point, because you question, “Why didn’t you say anything?” But … you sympathize with her. The burden and the guilt she feels is way too much for her to handle. It’s a story that asks of you, “What would YOU do in this situation?” Xavier Hamel tells this story with such grace and compassion because you feel for everyone involved. The woman who witnessed the crime, the woman whose life was taken away, and the woman who had to listen to her tell this awful burden she’s been holding.


KAYA

Directed & Written by: Catherine Fordham
Starring: Shakira Barrera, Brie Surodjawan

A woman’s desperate search through truck stops and motels explodes in vigilante justice when she discovers a young girl being trafficked by the same crew of truckers who took her teenage sister.

Kaya blew me out of the water in the best way possible. Kaya is the beginning of something that could be fantastic, and I instantly wanted more after finishing it. It feels like it’s just on the edge of being a Quentin Tarantino search-and-destroy-type mission with a little bit of the movies Revenge, Breakdown, and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

From the short, it’s already a profoundly fascinating and heartbreaking story of a woman who’s trying to find her sister. Still, it ends with the woman rescuing a young girl and gaining another sister in a sense. Once they drive into the night to search for her sister more (presumably), you’re wondering what will happen to them? Will the young girl be brought back to her family? Will she escape back into that life? When will the woman find her sister? Was she ever a part of human trafficking as well? There’s more story to come from this short, and I would be more than happy to watch it.


CHILDREN OF SATAN

Directed & Written by: Thea Hvistendahl
Starring: Iben Amalie Valas, Stella Valpuri Nilsen, Tia Schjølberg-Olavsen, Helene Bergsholm, Emma Bones, Thelma Farnes Ottersen

When a new girl enters their religious summer camp, two girls do whatever they can to not let the devil get inside them. 

I have a lot to say about this short and not enough time to say it. Don’t get me wrong by that first sentence. This was a stunning short film that captures satanic panic among religion-obsessed children very well. Children of Satan (or Satan’s Barn)’s narrative started to creep and crawl under my skin. It’s so effective because it feels like a fever dream of a short, but in all reality, it could happen. It made me think back to the days where I watched Jesus Camp for the first time. These girls are so afraid of the devil corrupting them that they kill a girl who’s a little strange.

It also does a great job introducing some Heavenly Creatures-type toxic friendship between the two girls that always made me shiver. Thea Hvistendahl’s Children of Satan (or Satan’s Barn) gives you the creeps in the best kind of way, but also amazes, surprises, and shocks you every minute you watch.