Dir. Cameo Wood (USA)
“A great artist will do whatever it takes to create a great vision.”
Real Artists focuses on an animation company that invites Sophia for the interview of a lifetime. However, things aren’t as they seem to be. Sophia soon finds out what it takes to stay a true artist. Real Artists did not do it for me. As the first one to come right out of the gate, it was quite disappointing, but I can see what it wanted to do.
I think this one needed a little bit more meat on the bones to allow it to say what it needed to say. It spends a lot of time philosophying what it means to be a true artist and what it takes to run that company. I wanted to see more with Sophia maybe being apart of the experiment herself. I wanted to see more of that weird technology at work. It was a great start to a finish, but if it got the time to get more meat on the bones, I think it could mix that philosophy with something spectacular.
Just After Midnight
Dirs. Anne-Marie Puga & Jean-Raymond Garcia (France)
“I want what you want. You want a blind woman.”
Suzanne is a blind woman who studies art history devoted to witches and Satan’s erotology. She becomes obsessed and wants to see the pictures for herself. How will she do this? She attempts to steal a pair of eyes to regain her site again. Just After Midnight was THE film I felt needed a full-length movie. The short film felt like just a glimpse of what this could become, and I love what I saw. It’s a different type of narrative that gets your mind going and wondering where the ending will lead. The visuals are stunning but also haunting, romantic and sinister. It’s very much a sensual french horror film that leaves you breathless.
The acting in this film is a goddamn dream. The leads relay such a raw and natural chemistry needed to brings out the crux of the story and Suzanne’s obsession. The score puts you completely on edge, especially as Pierre and Suzanne share a medium shot together. The romantic music plays, but then it roars and ramps, becoming demented and twisted. Everything about this short was the best of the best. Please Anne-Marie Puga & Jean-Raymond Gacia, make a feature-length film.
Dir. Jill Gevargizian (USA)
“Dude. Ava. I’m pretty sure this is a camera.”
42 Counts feature two friends who discover hidden cameras all over one of the friends’ apartment. They follow the clues that lead them to something they couldn’t imagine. I enjoyed 42 Counts while thoroughly being creeped the fuck out by it. It’s hard not to imagine this happening because it happens daily. After watching this, I immediately looked up at my smoke detector, unhooked it and looked inside.
42 Counts doesn’t have blood and guts but tells the story of something very real. Every step that these two friends make to discover who is doing this and the source feels like a bomb waiting to explode. The tension as well is felt throughout the film, especially as the girls hide and the peeping tom is in the same room. You’ll realize once the credits have rolled that you’ve held your breath the entire time. 42 Counts NEEDS to be seen. It’s an expertly crafted film that shouts even though it’s short.
Dreams from the Ocean
Dir. Carolina Sandvik (USA)
Dreams from the Ocean is a stop-motion animation about a woman who keeps dying and a man who keeps killing her. The stop-motion in Dreams from the Ocean was so masterful and imaginative. The lead character was almost obsessed with all the ways she could die in her own home. The entire short film felt very much like Polanski’s Repulsion mixed with Happy Death Day.
Dir. Hyun Lee (Australia)
Chan is a factory worker who suffers from terrible nightmares featuring her neighbor Yamada. Asian Girls was the best kind of perfect nightmare fuel that also leaves you on edge. A lot of different themes lie within Asian Girls. It deals with sleep paralysis, nightmares, and obsession in a way that feels authentic and downright frightening. The score is eerie but electric and puts a shiver down your spine.
The acting is spectacular. The lead girls gave both of them a personality without having to have them talk to other people and each other. The cinematography and direction are also to die for. One aspect that really throws you for a loop is when Chan takes back control and fucks with Yamada’s dreams. It’s the stuff I LIVE for.
The OBSESSIONS short film program was one of several featured programs shown at the fourth Final Girls Berlin Film Festival, which ran from January 31, 2019, to February 3. The festival exists to showcase horror cinema created by women. Check out the full program for the festival here.