Spoiler-Free Short Film Reviews: MOTHER TONGUE, JANELLE’S BABY, and IHRUQAX (A Night of Horror International Film Festival)

October 10, 2023

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 josephperry@gmail.com. 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 Tongue (Australia, 2023)

 

Jade (Amelia Foxton, who wrote the screenplay) and Alex (Chiara Gizzi) want to have a baby together, and Alex desperately wants to have it herself rather than adopting, but the couple has run out of almost all options. Almost all, because director Glen Fraser’s Mother Tongue being a horror comedy, the couple can always turn to the dark arts as a last resort. For their journey into the diabolical, they seek the assistance of Brian (Stephen Hunter), who seems to be on the flighty side but proves that he is indeed an occult practitioner. In another classic horror-comedy case of “Be careful what you wish for,” the trio finds itself in quite a gruesome mess. Foxton’s screenplay is rich with both dramatic and comedic looks at parenting and expectations surrounding pregnancy and its difficulties, and delivers the goods in the occult department, too. Foxton and Gizzi are terrific in their portrayals of the frustrated couple, and Hunter is a hoot as a practitioner of the dark arts who gets in over his head. Fraser balances the drama, the comedy, and the fear-fare elements splendidly, and Mother Tongue is a blast.

 

Janelle’s Baby (U.S., 2023)

 

In a much darker take on the frustration surrounding the inability to have a baby, writer/director Mr. Michael Squid’s Janelle’s Baby finds a childless couple (Rachael Richman and Loren Bidner in fine performances) having a difficult time with their situation. The wife becomes increasingly distanced and displays odd behavior, but the worst is yet to come. Squid crafts a riveting body horror short with a truly shocking ending that is not for the faint of heart.   

 

 

Ihruqax (Denmark, 2023)

 

Young blind woman Maria (Thea Kastberg) returns to her small Danish town to meet her elderly father Viggo (Henrik Meller), who is obsessed with something that he sees through his telescope, and which he refers to as Ihruqax. Although she believes that her father is suffering from delusions that require a doctor’s help, what he sees may have cataclysmic effects. Writer/director Rasmus Safarnia delivers a superb Lovecraftian short heavy on dread and bleakness, with the interesting take that Maria cannot see what her father does, so she can neither confirm what might be visible through his telescope nor see what is happening to her village.

 

 

These short films screened as part of A Night of Horror International Film Festival, which ran September 28–October 1, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. For more information, visit http://www.anightofhorror.com/.

 

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