Movie Review (Final Girls Berlin Film Fest): Dark Whispers Vol 1

February 12, 2020

Written by Joseph Perry

Joseph Perry is the Film Festival Editor for Horror Fuel; all film festival related queries and announcements should be sent to him at He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.

Dark Whispers Vol 1 is an Australian film that collects previously released short horror films from female directors into one impressive anthology. Fresh spins and unique takes on classic fright-fare themes abound.

Director Megan Riakos’s new wraparoundThe Book of Dark Whispers concerns a young woman (Andrea Demetriades) who finds the titular tome while going through her recently deceased mother’s belongings. It’s an effective approach that comments on how traits and baggage are handed down from one generation to another, and how they are not so easy to rid oneself of.

Birthday Girl (directed by Angie Black)

A ghost story about grief rather than outright horror, this gripping short about a woman (Sarah Bollenberg) who takes an elevator ride with a little girl (Michaela Teschendorff-Harden) still delivers the chills.

The Man Who Caught a Mermaid (directed by Kaitlin Tinker)

My favorite of the bunch, this short about an elderly fisherman (Roy Barker) whose dream of catching a mermaid comes true is highlighted by solid performances, impressive practical creature effects, a jaw-dropping surprise, and a wonderfully told story.

Gloomy Valentine (directed by Isabel Peppard)

A stop-motion animation short about a woman’s sense of loss after a break-up with her boyfriend, this one is most interesting for its bizarre, nightmare-like visuals.

Watch Me (directed by Briony Kidd)

An actress (Astrid Wells Cooper) is obsessed with constant public attention. This short sets up an interesting premise but falls short at its climax.  

Storytime (directed by Jub Clerc)

Tales of an evil supernatural woman who lives in the mangroves cause two young children (Verna Lawson and Jhi Clarke) to go exploring where the stories warn them not to. This short is thoroughly engaging and the performances by its young leads make it all the more compelling.

The Ride (directed by Marion Pilowsky)

A college student (Ed Speelers) hitchhiking back to school shares a ride with a racist middle-aged man (Anthony LaPaglia). After a deadly accident — or was it? — the two now share a terrible secret as well as a cramped vehicle space. The ending is telegraphed, but the performances make up for it.

White Song (directed by Katrina Irawati Graham)

A ghost haunts a woman after her husband dies in a car accident. A voice-over narration cramming in a great amount of detail slows this segment down, but splendid visuals and a unique take on why the ghost is present are among its strengths.

Grillz (directed by Lucy Gouldthorpe)

This horror comedy offers a nice bit of charm and heart to accompany its wit and bloodletting. Milla (Melanie Irons) is a vampire who seeks out her victims through an online dating service. She requires more than fresh blood, however, and seeks out a dentist from the dating pool. Irons gives a delightful turn as a vampire with a tooth problem. 

Little Sharehouse of Horrors (directed by Madeleine Purdy)

A weed comedy about a killer plant, this short drags on with the drug jokes but ultimately delivers some wicked fun.

The Intruder (directed by Janine Hewitt)

A young woman (Asher Keddie) believes she is about to become the victim of a home invasion, but this crackerjack short has other ideas in mind for her. This tale delivers eerie atmosphere, some tense candlelight scenes, and a gothic horror vibe.

Most anthologies have the expected strong entries with a weak tale or two, but each segment of Dark Whispers Vol 1 has something going for it.  This absorbing collection from a group of fascinating voices is well worth seeking out.

Dark Whispers Vol 1 screened at Final Girls Berlin Film Fest, which ran February 6th –9th at City Kino Wedding in Berlin, Germany.


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