Movie Reviews (Women in Horror Film Festival): Horror Shorts — The Shadow, Asking for a Friend, Always Going Never Gone

March 4, 2020

Written by Joseph Perry

Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5. He is a contributing writer for "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" print magazine and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, Ghastly Grinning, The Scariest Things, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Decades of Horror: The Classic Era" and "Uphill Both Ways" podcasts. Joseph has also written for “Scream” magazine, "Filmfax" magazine, “SQ Horror” magazine, and the websites That's Not Current an HorrorNews.net. He 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.

The Shadow

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

Photo by Greg Locke © 2018.

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.

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