Final Girls Berlin Film Festival: These Queer Horror Shorts Take You to Some Dark Places

Out of all of the blocks of horror shorts, this was the one I was looking to the most. I think that LGBTQ representation in film, as well as the genre, is sorely lacking and I was hoping that this block would be full to the brim with some excellent LGBTQ-related horror. For the most part, these shorts hit the spot with shorts from curious nuns to racist redneck small-town police. There is a short in this block for everyone.

Gay Teen Werewolf, Written and Directed by Andy Rose Fidoten

A family of wolves prepare for the annual night hunt

A group of LGBTQWW (the WW stands for Werewolf) students are planning the big dance, and working towards organizing a wolf dance. Upon meeting a vampire, Cassandra (Chloe Simone Crawford) gets excited and changes things up a bit. Little does she know, the vampire might not be all they seem to be. Plus, throw high school into the mix of this and it’s like Gossip Girl meets The Wolfman.

There are interesting ideas and some originality brought to this short, it ends up feeling sloppy in both its filmmaking and its message. It almost seems to be a mockery towards the LGBTQ community, but on the same hand, I am not a part of that community so I really have no basis to make that claim or not. This short film was definitely entertaining, even though it felt campy, but not in a purposeful way.

Itch, Written and Directed by Susannah Farrugia

Sister Jude goes back to praying after being caught itching her thigh by another nun

This short film starts out with Sister Jude (Alexandra Dowling) who is praying in church when she gets an itch she can’t seem to scratch. The itch, to me, seems to be a manifestation of something deep down she hasn’t reconciled with yet, and there are some well-placed contextual clues pointing to that. Once the itch becomes more prevalent, she is removed from duty until her scabs heal. All of this culminates into a few final moments of grotesque horror.

Susannah Farrugia has a really well-paced and fantastic-looking film on her hands here. The script is solid, but the directing and use of black and white really take this story to the next level. There are a few scenes where some special effects makeup was used and it all looks seamless and very well done. Also, the score for this is phenomenal, adding just more ambiance to the whole opus.

Protection Spell Written, Edited, and Directed by Maren Moreno

A woman grabs roses from a garden to shove into a condom as part of a spell

Some of the best horror elicits feelings that may not always be terrified; disgust, repulsion, and repugnance are all feelings that can come from effective horror. There’s little to say about Protection Spell other than all of those feelings have been elicited from viewing this short film. Not saying that in a bad way, necessarily, but take that statement with a grain of salt. The sounds and images that reside within this short film are repulsive and completely over the top. I mean the foley effects were done by Tasty The Clown.

Sundown Town Written, by Mylo Butler and Jada Lewter, Directed by Mylo Butler

The ghost that Bryce is envisioning stares at him, hoping that he will make it out alive

Sundown Town is a multi-award nominated and winning short film, 46 nominations so far, about a couple Bryce (Tashan Thornton) and Mitchel (Michael Haggerty) who are on a trip and happen to get pulled over in a small town. The cops turn out to be absolute racist and homophobic trash and attempt some terrible things on this couple. Throughout the short Bryce is having terrifying visions of the ghosts of the black people the cops in this town have killed. When confronted with the most difficult decision of his life, Bryce has to weigh out every option in the blink of a second.

One of the most impressive things about this short is it attempts to be a film that dually focuses on two different ideas and fleshes them out perfectly. Are they being targeted because they are gay? Or because Bryce is black? The answer is both, but Butler and Lewter’s script does a good job at separating the two main reasons they are being targeted but also finds a way to connect them. This film, for me, rests on the shoulders of Get Out with the important message it’s making, because deep down we all know, things like this still happen today.

New Flesh for the Old Ceremony, Written and Directed by Elizabeth Rakhilkina

Virginia and V's Lover make love before going about their morning

I love films that have titles like this, it’s so rich and authentic, almost making it feel like the title of a novel. I wish I had that much enthusiasm for the film itself. A couple, Virginia (LeeAnne Hutchinson) and V’s Lover (Ana Maria Jomolca), lives isolated in a beautiful house that is seemingly in the middle of nowhere. On one fateful day, their dogs eat one of them, for a very vague reason. Upon coming home and finding Virginia dead, V’s Lover goes through stages of grief in extreme ways.

There are solid moments in this short but on the hole it is pretty messy. It seems like it was ADR’d in a large empty room. The foley work for the dogs just sounds really sloppy, like it was completely out of place and seemed rushed. It was a bit frustrating that something that looked as good as this short does could seem as awkward as this one does.

MonsterDyke, Written, Edited, and Directed by Kay Adelaide and Mariel Sharp

The creature that the sculptress falls in love with

Ahh, Monsterdyke is completely bonkers! With a title like that, it was a bit unclear as to what we would be getting ourselves into with this one. What we get is a sculptress who gets body-shamed, and then falls in love with the now sentient sculpture they were working on. That’s really all you need to know about this one. There is a scene that just gets absolutely weird and very over the top in a great way, and had me cackling so incredibly hard, and gasping at the sound design and prevalence of goo—there is a lot of goo. This short was just strange and entertaining, and I don’t want to watch it again. Typically the use of black and white is a plus, but for this one, it would have been interesting to see it all in color as I think that would have added a new layer to the whole experience.

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Written by Brendan Jesus

I am an award-winning horror screenwriter, rotting away in New Jersey.

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