Spoiler-Free Film Reviews: “Stage Fright,” “Sauvage,” “Pulp,” and “Morto Rossa” (Romford Horror Festival)

February 26, 2024

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.

STAGE FRIGHT (France, 2023)

Writer/director Alexandre Leroy’s terrific horror short Stage Fright (original title: Trac) finds an actress named Lily (Délia Espinat-Dief) about to make her debut on the opening night of a highly anticipated play. She is overcome by the titular nervousness to the point that reality and nightmarish visions blur. Leroy has crafted a fine blend of psychological horror focusing on the fear of failure and what lengths some artists may go to succeed, with giallo-style violence and lighting and no shortage of psychotic mayhem. Espinat-Dief gives a bravura performance as the nerves-stricken star of the play.


SAUVAGE (France, 2023)

In Sauvage, short-story writer Paul Rive (Felix Bruneau) returns to the hometown he left in disgust to talk with his former lover Wanda (Emma Lopes). Soon enough, he finds himself exposed to the very things that made him leave the woman and the city in the first place. Writer/director Ornella Barbé captures much of what I love about classic French genre cinema in this superb short: beautiful black-and-white cinematography — Director of Photography Romain Duquesne does marvelous work here — mystery that keeps viewers spellbound, visuals that capture an underworld of society in gorgeous shots, and characters who tempt fate when they should know much better.


PULP (France, 2024)

In Pulp (original title: Pulpe), Leo (Joris Digianantonio) has just broken up with Gaspard (Sylvain Baumann), with Leo giving Gaspard a favorite orange sweater as a parting gift. Gaspard is not taking the breakup well, to put it mildly, and his rapid descent in mental health is quite unsettling. Writer/director Théo Beaudéan delivers a riveting, short film that focuses on obsession and the terrifying effects it can have on people. Baumann gives a solid lead performance as his character becomes consumed by the color orange and organic materials of that hue. 

MORTO ROSSA (France, 2022)

A mesmerizing occult shocker that riffs on Suspiria, writer/director Yan Berthemy’s Morto Rossa finds dancer Suzie (Célia Mocydlarz) auditioning for a school. A phone call from her mother on the way does little to help her nerves, and the school owner Aradia (Dominique Terrier) and her two staff members are also intimidating. Berthemy has constructed an eerie, enthralling short that boasts a great lead performance, including wonderful dancing, from Mocydlarz, goosebumps-inducing turns from supporting players, and some very cool practical effects that I don’t want to spoil about here. Aficionados of fear-fare that involves dancing — along with Suspiria, think such films as Black Swan and The Red Shoes — will want to put Morto Rossa high on their need-to-see lists, as will fans of supernatural shockers in general.



Stage Fright, Sauvage, and Pulpe screen as part of the Romford Horror Film Festival, which runs February 29–March 3, 2024 in Romford, U.K. For more information, visit https://www.romfordhorrorfestival.com/. Morto Rossa screened as part of the Romford Horror Film Festival in 2023.


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