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ATL Horror Film Festival 2020 Day 4 Recap: Creep-Outs, Final Girls and Macabre Comedy

SHORT BLOCKS #8: THE FINAL, GIRLS

Lose It (AJ Taylor, Maximillian Clark, USA)

The illusion of home being a “safe place” is destroyed as woman slowly loses all of her five senses to a monstrous force. We have no idea why this is happening, making the woman’s terror all the more relatable. This could’ve worked even without the elven creature pulling the strings.

Voices (Bingzhang Mao, USA)

A voice operator is stalked by a stranger who claims he’s in love with her voice. The twist isn’t hard to figure out, but the stalker’s inhuman abilities make the victim’s actions more realistic. And you’ll likely find yourself yelling at the screen in hopes the victim puts the pieces together a bit quicker. I loved the chilling, final phone call that closes out the film.

Swipe (Niels Bourgonje, Netherlands)

The big appeal with dating sites is the physical distance. You’re able to make snap decisions about potential suitors before even a phone call. But what happens when an aggressive man breaches that barrier and begins following you? A woman experiences this after swiping left on a dating app match. She finds the man getting closer and closer despite being just beyond her field of vision.

Plays like a beautiful nightmare that will make you consider disabling those apps.

Keep Mum (Luana Di Pasquale, UK)

A mother suffering from memory loss must piece together the events of what happened to her and her child. Quickly, the viewer realizes the mother and child are no longer on this plane of existence. The 15 minute short takes us on the mother’s journey of guilt and acceptance, and while compelling in spots, her eventual reasoning for her actions puts her in a gray area regarding sympathy.

The House Call (David Schuler, USA)

Check out my interview with David Schuler. This homage to 70s and 80s horror tells the story of an atheist psychiatrist who becomes a target for the Devil after visiting the family of a possessed woman. Religion will always be an ample playground for horror and Schuler does a wonderful job in showing the fine line between scientific and religious diagnosis of mental illness. And kudos for the throwback music.

Strayed (Sarah Bonrepaux, France)

A woman’s exercise run turns into a fight for survival once her abilities (hearing, walking etc) start breaking down. The buildup is well done and just as it gets intriguing with additional time travel and doppelganger elements, an abrupt ending cuts matters short. Definitely a film that could warrant an extended deep dive for the premise it establishes.

Momma, Don’t Go (Rafael De Leon Jr., USA)

A mother’s love will protect her child, even from the grave. Two thieves in the midst of a home invasion learn this very lesson. There’s a good cop/ bad cop dynamic among the thieves, but the fates of both remains highly satisfying. The grief-stricken daughter provides an extra emotional punch that makes for a memorable conclusion.

The Undoing (Michael Anthony, USA)

During a global pandemic, people who’re quarantining are being found dead with no exact cause. A woman finds herself in danger of the same fate after a brooding entity begins hiding with her. I liked the “angel of death” vibes with the spirit and of course the plot is entirely relatable in these times.

Mute: Don’t Stop the Music! (Rocco Shapiro, USA)

The power of music compels you! A young woman has found a unique solution to fending off a demon — keep the music playing. But how long can she keeps the records spinning? The 70s setting and music was a nice touch, especially for those who remember the craze of hearing hidden messages when playing records backwards.

Candid (Mauricio Herrera, USA)

Cameras may not snatch souls, but in this three-minute short they can predict your future. A woman begins to find mysterious photos in a newly purchased camera, eventually creating a real-life nightmare. Everything here in implied, but the bright red lighting from the film negatives does well in giving this an unsettling gothic atmosphere.

The 911 Call (Gioia Jiles, USA)

This film holds the distinction of being the shortest at less than a minute. A woman’s estranged husband makes his way home after 2 years. Only problem is two years ago marks his death date. Considering the run time, this was a clever move since it could easily play as a domestic violence situation until you hear the big reveal.

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