Movie Reviews: Mother Superior, Last Seen, and The Businessman (SLASH Film Festival)

October 7, 2022

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 [email protected] 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.

Mother Superior (2022)

Writer/director Marie Alice Wolfszahn’s Austrian horror thriller Mother Superior, set in 1975, finds anesthesiste-in-training Sigrun (Isabella Hӓndler) hired on as a nurse for elderly Baroness Heidenreich (Inge Maux). The baroness has been going through a series of nurses rather quickly, but Sigrun hopes to stay on longer than her predecessors. This has less to do with job security than it does with the fact that she hopes to find some clue about her own past. This being a horror film with mystery elements, the main setting is naturally an isolated rural mansion. Wolfszahn and cinematographer Gabriel Krajanek use this setting to full effect as Sigrun wanders through dark areas, including ones that she has been forbidden to enter. The beautifully sunlit grounds provide a sharp contrast to the dimly lit house. I don’t want to spoil the several shades of mystery at play in Mother Superior, so suffice it to say that the main characters — including the baroness’ assistant Otto (Jochen Nickel) — all harbor secrets, and that danger lurks should any of them be revealed. Wolfszahn’s screenplay tackles dark history, and she helms the film beautifully, aided by a cast giving fine performances and showing terrific chemistry.

 

 

Last Seen (2021)

In writer/director/editor Nathan Ginter’s short film Last Seen, Devon (Chris Jensen in a strong, mostly silent performance) is a young man struggling after the unresolved disappearance of his younger sister. He’s also having trouble communicating with his mother, and what he’s going through isn’t helping him at his lifeguard job, either. Last Seen is a dark drama that examines grief and loss. Ginter’s filmmaking approach to this short, especially with his fine job of editing and the sparse usage of dialogue, requires close attention to fit puzzle pieces together, resulting in a harrowing effort. You’ll never look at Sea Monkeys the same way again. 

The Businessman (2022)

Nathan Ginter strikes again, this time with a chilling effort entitled The Businessman. Schoolgirl Lola (Liviya Meyers) is walking home from school by herself in the woods when she happens across the titular character (Steven Gamble) who, in a very eerie manner, tries to get her to question her dependence on her parents and to become self-sufficient by selling vintage fashion magazines — or are they of a quite different genre? — at her school that he supplies. The Businessman has quite a different style to it than Last Seen, incorporating longer takes and extreme close-ups to build the tension and discomfiting atmosphere. Gamble is deliciously menacing in his role, and Meyers plays a young, confused innocent wonderfully. Ginter gives The Businessman an eerie atmosphere throughout, building up to a skin-crawling climax.

Mother Superior, Last Seen, and The Businessman screened as part of SLASH Film Festival, which took place in Vienna from September 22–October 2, 2022. For more information, visit  https://slashfilmfestival.com/en/

 

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