[CFF 2022] DANGEROUS VISIONS VOLUME TWO Review - A Horror and Genre Shorts Showcase

E.L. King says the Dangerous Visions Volume Two showcase of horror and genre shorts at the Chattanooga Film Festival takes us to other worlds and explores are deepest fears.


Liza Scholtz (Good Madam, The Maze Runner) in EXO SAPIEN written and directed by James C. Williamson screened at the 2022 Chattanooga Film Festival.

Invisible beasts, grief-induced psychosis, anxiety, blood, guts, and demonic possession. Chattanooga Film Festival highlighted horror and genre films with two showcases of short films entitled Dangerous Visions. These highlighted up-and-coming filmmakers and performers both behind the camera and in front of it. The program was a strong collection of thought-provoking films. This selection has a little bit for everyone including science fiction, gorefest, supernatural and psychological thrillers.



 


EXO SAPIEN

Writer and director James C. Williamson's South African science fiction short Exo Sapien is visually stunning with horror elements that conjure visions of creature features like Alien (1979) and Predator (1987). The film's depiction of a familiar and dangerous dystopian alternate earth with fearsome masked creatures is also reminiscent of Joseph Kosinski's vivid and intelligent science fiction feature Oblivion (2013). We start at the end, to discover the beginning. Williamson relies on brilliant sound design, solid performances from Liza Scholtz (Good Madam, The Maze Runner) and Tuks 'Tad' Lungu, and minimal yet exciting special effects that evoke anxiety from the audience. We're left with many questions, but solving the mystery for ourselves is a key element of our immersion in the narrative. I'd be delighted for this short to be expanded into a feature-length film.

Bloody Knife Rating: 4


DESTINATION: MOON

"There's a moon in the sky. It's called the moon! Everybody's there." For a short film entirely shot on super-8 during the height of the pandemic, Destination: Moon, written, directed, and produced by Nathaniel Hendricks is visually pleasing, but the masks feel out of place with the visual narrative. It's more music video than narrative and that may be its only strength. It's said to be inspired by David Boone's Invasion of the Aluminum People (1980), which in turn was based on Don Siegel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). Everything that made the originals great is stripped down to what appears to be an attempt at social commentary, but the film, unfortunately, falls very flat.

Bloody Knife Rating: 2


SPECTER OF WEEPING HILL

I've got a soft spot for 70s horror. Set in 1977, Specter of Weeping Hill is a stylish ghost story starring Breanne Solis. The classic graveyard romp gave me a delightful and unexpected scare. With great direction, exceptional costume design, and solid performances, it's the kind of PG-13 Poltergeist horror that leaves you feeling anxious but good as the end credits roll. Written and directed by Matthew and Nathanial Barber, with haunting music by Juan Carlos Enriquez, it's a short not to be missed.

Bloody Knife Rating: 4


THE ANGST

"Never stressed. Always blessed." The Angst is a very clever expression of how our true feelings, the ones we don't dare tweet, consume us when locked away. Our darker emotions eat us from the inside out, we fall apart and break down the longer we let them fester. When we aren't being honest, when we deny our darkest feelings, they may just return to haunt and devour us. As someone with severe anxiety, L. Gustavo Cooper's story co-written with Ben Powell resonated with me deeply. Bernard David Jones gives a convincing performance as the film's angst-ridden lead.

Bloody Knife Rating: 5



Marnee Carpenter in FOUND directed by Jean Grant screened at the 2022 Chattanooga Film Festival.

FOUND

Jean Grant's Found is an intriguing science fiction short. Co-written by Tom Bissell and directed, and produced by Grant, it follows Rowen (Marnee Carpenter), desperately searching for her ex-girlfriend in an age where not posting on TikTok or Instagram is a warning sign and UFOs casually linger in the sky. Carpenter delivers a raw, emotional, and convincing performance. I'm fairly certain that Rowen's ringtone is a play on the opening credits music from The X-Files. It's a perfect nod as audiences are left to determine was is and isn't reality.

Bloody Knife Rating: 3


INCH THICK, KNEE DEEP

Quinn (Blakely), a haughty daydreamer, is stewing over a heartbreaking situation with her soulmate; and Adrienne (Whitney Morgan Cox), the woman who’s caught his eye has come face-to-face with her for a fateful meeting. Women, madness, and obsession have been done in horror. Exhaustively in fact. The film is somewhat reminiscent of the French romantic and psychological thriller, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (2002). Unfortunately, Inch Thick, Knee Deep is sorely underdeveloped apart from the leading role. Its saving grace is the outstanding performances. Writer, director, and lead, Anatasha Blakely brings Quinn to life with a chilling, stringent, and demented portrayal of the lovelorn antagonist, but the short reads as an unimaginative vanity project.

Bloody Knife Rating: 2


WEEE WOOO

A young woman wakes in the dead of night to a world devoid of sound. Yet, through the silence, she hears a mysterious call that draws her deep into the dark woods. The film is uniquely weird and unsettling. The absence of sound only heightens the tension and Tara Pacheco sells every moment with her incredibly convincing performance. Peggy's fear is palpable as she stumbles through the forest. The film is beautifully shot, with exceptional editing and sound design. Writer and director Charlie McWade delivers something both frightening and exciting with Weee Wooo.

Bloody Knife Rating: 4



Madeleine Arthur in LOVE YOU, MAMA directed by Alexandra Magistro screened at the 2022 Chattanooga Film Festival.

LOVE YOU, MAMA

With thoughtful storytelling, Love You, Mama is a poignant portrait of the psychosis that often comes with grief and a very human struggle to cope. The horror thriller is the writing and directorial debut of Alexandra Magistro. Its story is dark and terrifying. Forcing us to ask what disturbed lengths we'd go to if it meant holding on to someone we love. Fear can make us do terrible things. Magistro proves to be a talented filmmaker on the rise with a keen understanding of the human experience. The film stars Samantha Sloyan (The Haunting of Hill House, Midnight Mass), Madeleine Arthur (In Color and Space), and Matt Biedel (Midnight Mass).

Bloody Knife Rating: 4


THREE WAYS TO DINE WELL

Three Ways to Dine Well is a thought-provoking visual essay. Writer, director, and producer, Alison Pierse explores horror's relationship to eating, in over seventy horror films made by women, from the 1920s through the 2020s. While I enjoy consuming this kind of horror studies research immensely, the editing, film selection, audio levels, and narration left something to be desired.

Bloody Knife Rating: 3


RED IS THE COLOR OF BEAUTY

Just before the mall closes, two women fight over a special necklace. Is beauty worth killing for? Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep certainly thought so. I got a few Death Becomes Her vibes while watching grown women tussle over a necklace offering youth and beauty, but the casting was a bit confusing as Cheryl (Grace Rex) is middle-aged and her desire for the vigor of youth is understandable, while Blair (Sidney White) appears to be a teenager. Written and directed by Beck Kitsis, Red is the Color of Beauty is stylish and amusing.

Bloody Knife Rating: 3


VISITORS

Visitors, written and directed by Kenichi Ugana might be the most fun you'll have watching a short film this year. The film stars Shiho, Haruki Itabashi, Saki Hirai, and Ryuta Endo. It follows Haruka, Nana, and Takanori who are visiting the house of Souta, a band member who has lost contact with them. After arriving at the house, his behavior is a little odd and it turns out the house is home to a demonic presence. One by one, Souta's friends are possessed with Souta idlly hanging out, unphased in the background while chaos unfolds. It's a full-on The Evil Dead (1981) meets The Exorcist (1973) experience with fantastic practical makeup effects and solid performances. The film has no shortage of gore and it's sure to make you laugh.

Bloody Knife Rating: 5


The Dangerous Visions Vol 2 - Horror and Genre Shorts Showcase collection of short films screened at the Chattanooga Film Festival on June 23-28, 2022.


 



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