Good Girls Go to Heaven; Bad Girls Go Everywhere

As we galavant around the independent world of horror cinema, there are two subjects I find oft overlooked: female creators and short films. Just out of the spotlight, women are producing amazing work that is (curiously enough) less publicized and reviewed than their masculine peers creations. While full-length features get praises heaped on them – despite their actual merit – short films tend to be left out in the cold; an interesting phenomenon, when considering the evolution of vine, snapchat and the like.

With that in mind, lets take a look at five great short films from some of today’s best female creators:

It’s best to start strong, don’t you find? Karen Lam’s short film, The Meeting, is most definitely that. Fetching home Best Horror Film at the recent Shawna Shea Film Festival in Somerville, The Meeting is clever, unexpected, well-shot and well-performed. Lam’s piece stood out from an already impressive lineup, presenting a delightfully evil little story with some kick-ass dialogue. Taking place in church-run SK Anon (that’s Serial Killer’s Anonymous for you lay-folk out there), we meet three wicked creatures struggling to overcome their inclinations – only to have temptation itself walk into the room. The film takes on the usual serial killers expectations, turning them on their head in an elegant piece that not only intelligently toys with psychology, but does so with wit and humour.

Next up is Escape, by Melanie Light, a solid submission in the classic revenge theme. Storytelling through details, the film allows the audience to piece the characters together through their reactions, interactions and what they carry with them – literally and metaphorically. Light’s piece is beautiful, dark, and unpleasant; one of the most realistic revenge films I’ve seen in a long time, not bothering with elaborate set-up and scheming, but opting instead for an instinctual, gut-reaction that feels so much more natural. Julia Sandberg Hansson and Darri Ingolfsson, are confident in the lead roles, embodying their characters easily, naturally. But more than that, Light employs the natural scenery of the shooting area, creating atmosphere with the natural elements in a way not frequently seen in small films. Escape is a great film, and, I think, heralding a brilliant future for the woman at its helm.

In a similar vein to Escape, Lori Bowen’s short film JustUs deals with the concept of revenge, and the pleasure of vengeance. The film is brief and a bit rough around the edges – seeing only two main crew members in the credits explains that. But despite it’s occasional technical misstep, JustUs is an interesting film, smart and inspired, telling a slightly different tale than the normal rape-and-revenge fantasy. The female lead is strong, empowered and interesting, much more three dimensional than the male – in itself a breath of fresh air for the genre. Her final moments on-screen seal the deal for me, a shot that moved me more than any gory bloodbath I’ve had the pleasure to witness in the past.

But hey, if creepy gore is your thing, the ladies got that too! Jovanka Vuckovic’s The Guest, can more than placate your demands for blood and guts. I got my first art-crush on Vuckovic after watching her surreal short, The Captured Bird. Her latest only improves on her portfolio, presenting another not-quite-explained tale that creeps you out – even as it leaves you wanting more. The Guest is freaky, pretty and just the right touch of icky. With bloody hearts and bleeding eyes, supernaturality and mysterious voices, this piece will please across the board – I just want to know when I’ll be able to see more!

Finally, I’d like to close with a piece more music video than short film. First Date, written and directed by Blair Richardson, was one of my favourite recent pieces. Clocking in at just over two minutes, the film is short and wordless, but mysterious, elegant. Richardson’s piece simultaneously leaves you needing more, but is masterful in it’s storytelling, leaving nothing hanging. The music carries the film, a slow sexy number by Elizabeth Grant that is almost as much as a character as our two leads. I can’t recommend spending two minutes (or more and more, as you watch it over again, as I did) with this piece enough.

So, whadda ya think? Inspired yet? Go on, check out the work of all these tough, crazy, kick-ass smart women, and come back and tell me what you think. It’s about time we see their names in lights.

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    Andrea Wolanin