Italian short Two Sisters is a period piece horror with folk horror elements. Set in the late 15th century in the Lessini Mountains of Verona, writer/director Diego Carli’s film involves the titular siblings (Jenni Tatani and Marianna Caporalito in marvelous performances) being pursued by a group of men hunting for witches. The teen girls have good reason to hide, and they do so using magical powers. When they come under attack, a horrifically violent event occurs, and the two sisters find their close bond being challenged. Carli invests his short with incredible detail, from researching facts around that time period’s height of witch hunting to costumes and recreating authenticity of the sets and outdoor shots on display. Cinematographer Edoardo Olivieri beautifully captures the proceedings, with Luigi Maria Mennella’s score providing perfect musical accompaniment.
The Mean Spirited
Codirectors Jack Archer (who wrote the screenplay) and Joseph Archer deliver a very special work with their U.K. short The Mean Spirited. Shot splendidly by cinematographer Sam Kemp in a complicated 15-minute single take, the story sees a man named Mr. Blakely (Christopher Mulvin) who claims to be a medium holding a session contacting spirits of the departed with internet celebrity Oscar (Georgie Muya), who is filming the event for his online account; Alex (Bailey Harris-Kelly), a man who is grieving the death of his mother; and theater actor Charlotte (Lara Cooper-Chadwick), who has provided the use of her theater for the evening. The tone weaves cleverly from one genre to another as events unfold and true personalities are revealed, with a good deal of humor, horror, and drama on display. The ensemble cast members all give believable, invested performances, and the Archers provide a highly entertaining short that leaves viewers with plenty on which to mull over.
Young projectionist Lily (Nicole Joseph) goes into work alone at her cinema and watches a chilling silent horror film in writer/director C.I. Smith’s U.K. short film Unreel. Unfortunately for her, this movie will have unnerving, life-altering effects on her after she finishes watching it. Smith does fine work here crafting a film within a film, as the silent movie boasts an authentic look, down to the costumes and makeup of the actors involved, and the main film also looks terrific. Tom Martin’s cinematography is highly impressive, and Joseph does a super job in her lead role, with solid supporting turns from the silent-film actors — Jacquline Relsic, Alice Allen, Connor Williams, and Alexander Halsall — and Dan Crowe in a voice performance as Lily’s boss.
You can view the trailer at https://citizensmith.net/projects/unreel/.
TWO SISTERS, THE MEAN SPIRITED, and UNREEL screened as part of Romford Horror Festival, which took place in Romford, U.K. from February 23–26, 2023. For more information, visit http://www.romfordhorrorfestival.com/.