Writer/director/star Bridget Barbara’s period piece horror The Shadow drips with dread and foreboding from the opening frame and never lets up. A young woman (Barbara) showing signs of physical distress walks through a forest around sunset, has a meal while looking troubled, and then is confronted by the titular presence in her bedroom. Barabara gives a splendid silent performance, investing her character with a sadness that feels palpable, and shows a keen eye for framing haunting shots. Artfully shot by director of photography Derek Haager, the short recalls gloomy, Old World-set tales of the supernatural, and the score and sound design are terrific accompaniments.
Asking for a Friend
Winner of the fest’s Horror Comedy Short award, writer/director Kelsey Bollig’s Asking for a Friend is a humorous look at the strong bond of friendship between Blake (Jacqueline Bell), who has just come home from a hard day at work and is looking forward to a plate of nachos, and Q (Victoria Lacoste), who is trying to figure out what to do with a corpse that just won’t stop bleeding on the floor of their home. The misadventures of the two as they go about disposing of the body and trying to cover up whatever led to there being a body provides plenty of laughs and a load of jaw-droppingly gruesome practical effects courtesy of special effects supervisor Arthur T Haynes. Bell and Lacoste make for a fine comic duo, and Bollig keeps things rolling at a frenetic pace.
Always Going Never Gone
Writer/director Wanda Nolan’s chilling Canadian short Always Going Never Gone has a gripping, ethereal tone. A graduate student in folklore (Allison Moira Kelly as Kari) interviews an older lady (Mary-Colin Chisolm as Ailish) as part of the former’s research on supernatural legends. This short is a difficult one to write about, as even giving some praise where it is due means giving away spoilers, and it should be seen knowing as little as possible going in. Chisolm and Kelly play off of each other beautifully, and Rhiannon Morgan also gives a fine performance. Sarah Harris’ unsettling score and Justin Simms’ sound design perfectly complement Nolan’s fantastically directed otherworldly tale, gorgeously shot by cinematographer Duncan De Young.
The Shadow, Asking for a Friend, and Always Going Never Gone screened at Women in Horror Film Festival, which took place in Atlanta, Georgia, from February 27–29.