Final Girls Berlin Film Festival: Menacing Presence Short Films Are Introspectively Scary

Closing time—you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here. Well, folks, the end is nigh. This eighth and final block of short films brings an end to the scarily entertaining Final Girls Berlin Film Festival. There were so many wonderful, terrifying, funny, and heartbreaking pieces at this festival. Block number eight surrounds the Menacing Presence short films. It’s always bittersweet to hit the end of a festival, especially when there is one as special as something like this. I don’t think I’ve really mentioned it but it’s great to see a festival that supports groups of people like this and gives them a platform to showcase an art form that means a lot. Out of all of my festival coverage, this may be one of the most entertaining festivals I’ve covered. So, with a tear in my eye let’s take a look at the last block of short films: Menacing Presences.

Inheritance, Written and Directed by Annalise Lockhart

Norra looks on in horror as she sees these menacing ghosts starring at her while she works

What would you do if there were people seemingly stalking you on your property? People who may not be there? On Norra’s (Victoria A. Villier) 25th birthday she and her brother are given the deed to their father’s cabin, which sits deep in the woods in Vermont, surrounded by hundreds of sap-giving trees. Once the deed is handed to Norra she starts to notice people outside, starring blankly at her, watching and waiting. While thoroughly uncomfortable, she and her brother are determined not to let them drive them off. Her brother ends up making a McCoy field with the electrical frequencies the trees give off.

One of the things Inheritance does well is creating racial tension, it tells the story of a black family in Vermont that is being watched by a coterie of white ghosts. The big piece of commentary this short makes is that the family can only truly find peace by becoming invisible. It’s a truly haunting look at race relations and ends with a melancholically wholesome final shot. Annalise Lockhart is a powerhouse of a filmmaker, with a credit of assistant director on the amazingly underrated show Random Acts of FlynessInheritance is an Afrofuturist piece that is hauntingly beautiful and leaves you impatiently waiting for whatever Lockhart has planned to make next.

Housekreeping, Written and Directed by Kyle Dunbar

Meg cleans a hotel room that is home to a suspicious looking briefcase

Working extra hours for some more moolah, Meg (Rebecca Callendar) works as a housekeeper at a hotel. Her coworker Johnny (Alexandre Stoupenkov) is acting very strange and even dons a Dollar Store brand hockey mask. There is something up, but we’re not privy to the horrors yet. Is Johnny a masked killer? Or does Dunbar subvert our expectations with a final reveal?

Set aside the absolutely great play on words in the title, Housekreeping is a tight and entertaining short that doesn’t take itself too seriously but is still an interesting watch. The idea of the twist in this actually caught me off guard and is handled very well by Dunbar. Overall this is a fun short that is definitely full of a menacing presence.

Sudden Light, Written and Directed by Sophie Littman

Mia and her sister look for their dog in an endless loop of rolling hills

Wow, what a piece. What happens if you mix PT, open rolling hills, and a cute doggo? You get Sudden Light. This Cannes Film Festival Palm d’Or Best Short Film nominee is a truly remarkable piece of film. It is a slow and haunting film that feels like an elevated creepypasta, or at least it seems like it could be an amazing first episode of a new season of Channel Zero.

Two sisters take their dog for a walk in a field, but after their dog runs away they go on a trippy journey to try and get him back. I’ve long had a reoccurring nightmare of being stuck in a large house where every door opens into a whole new set of hallways, which usually ends with me waking up drenched in sweat, and my heart beating a million beats per second. Sudden Light takes my nightmare and does something I didn’t know could be done…make it scarier.

One of the hardest things to pull off is taking horror outside, setting it in the sunlight, and keeping it scary. Littman takes the vast open fields, creating a horrific loop of a never-ending nightmare when a sister tries to find not only her dog but her other sister. This short is absolutely beautifully shot and an all-around amazing and heartbreaking piece of horror. Not sure what the judges at Cannes were thinking that this one was only a nominee for the Palm d’Or.

Nuage (Cloud), Written by Jean-Jacques Kahn, Directed by Joséphine Darcy Hopkins

Eugenie lays in bed, worrying about the impending ash cloud

The Final Girls Berlin Film Festival really wanted to go out with a bang. These final two short films are nothing short of masterpieces. Nuage tells a story about two young girls Eugénie (Cypriane Gardin) and Capucine (Solène Rigot) as they make a trip across France trying to escape an ever-looming gigantic ash cloud that is soon to hit their town. With Capucine’s sick mother in town, the girls start their journey.

Hopkins’ direction is incredibly on point here. The film feels so vast and big, but at the same time, it feels very claustrophobic. Step back The Purge with your start of purge siren, the air raid sirens in Nuage are overwhelmingly haunting and really do a good job of putting you in the shoes of our leads. One of the other really impressive things about this short is the insert shots of an ominous figure standing deep in the ash clouds. The imagery here is just so haunting it makes me deeply uncomfortable just thinking about it. Kahn’s script is tight and really interesting, while Hopkins’ direction adds so much more to it.

I couldn’t really ask more from this film as it is an amazing bookend to an amazing festival. If there is one thing that should be taken away from this festival it’s that women and non-binary filmmakers like the ones highlighted in this festival need to be taken more seriously by companies and producers, as well as given more opportunities. Nearly every feature and short that was in this festival were miles better than some of the crap that has been mass-produced from companies over the past few years. Hopefully, all filmmakers involved in the Final Girls Berlin Film Festival will get what they rightfully deserve: the opportunity to make more excellent genre films.

Looking for more on the Final Girls Berlin Film Festival? We’ve got you:

“Final Girls Berlin Film Festival: Time To Get Pissed off With These Wrathful Horror Shorts”

“Final Girls Berlin Film Festival: We’re All Going to the World’s Fair Is Truly Frightening”

“Final Girls Berlin Film Festival: Medical Horror Shorts Are Scarier Than a Medical Bill”

“Final Girls Berlin Film Festival: Here Before Is Uncomfortably Chilling”

“Final Girls Berlin Film Festival: Shorts To Make You Blood Red With Envy”

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

“Final Girls Berlin Film Festival: You Are Not My Mother Is a Terrifying Folk Horror Tale”

“Final Girls Berlin Film Festival: Midnight Short Films That Lurk in the Shadows”

“Final Girls Berlin Film Festival: Gluttonous Horror Shorts To Fill You Up”

“Final Girls Berlin Film Festival: Horror Shorts About Social Ills Will Creep Into You”

“Final Girls Berlin Film Festival: Gluttonous Horror Shorts To Fill You Up”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Written by Brendan Jesus

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

The grisly designed banner for Final Girls Berlin Film Festival

Final Girls Berlin Film Festival: Gluttonous Horror Shorts To Fill You Up

Aurora sitting in an alien-shaped rock formation

Cosmic Dawn Is an Excellent Alien/Cult Mashup