Joseph’s Reviews: Female Voices Rock Film Festival Short Films: “Clan”, “The Doe”, “Ingenue”, “Beauty Juice”, and “Subject 3”

From supernatural horror to the immediacy of pandemic terror, Female Voices Rock Film Festival’s After Midnight block offers a unique selection of remarkable fright-fare shorts from women directors.  


★★★★ out of ★★★★★

The U.K. chiller Clan sees Maeve Marlow (Tamsin Topolski of Penny Dreadful) go to her late mother’s childhood home in rural Scotland to pack up and clear out the belongings so the house can be put up for sale, despite her father’s objections. During a walk through the local wilderness, she happens upon a pagan ritual, after which an acquaintance (Emma D’Inverno as Morag) of Maeve’s mother comes calling. Writer/director Claudia Lee has crafted an eerie folk horror short that addresses bloodlines and the secrets that they can hide. Topolski is terrific, boasting facial expressions that say so much, and D’Inverno gives a super turn in her supporting role. The otherworldly sense that runs throughout Clan turns to full-on dread. 

ATMOSfx! Woo!

The Doe

★★★★ out of ★★★★★

Survival horror, stranger in a strange land horror, and nature-themed horror mash up in the exciting, great-looking French short The Doe (La Biche). Hélène (Hélène Kuhn, who is wonderful in the lead role) and her boyfriend (Bastien Pujol) are on a rural vacation. After the two have a spat, she heads out for a walk along the local farm roads and has odd moments with locals until her life is suddenly endangered. With moments of dark humor and beauty amidst the tension, writer/director Jennifer Lumbroso’s short, beautifully shot by cinematographer Matheiu Giombini, is marvelously paced and keeps the viewer in almost as much of a confused state as Hélène, but just the right amount ahead of the proceedings. 


★★★★ out of ★★★★★

Ingenue is a superb supernatural short that finds Australian actress Sara Addorney (Nell Nakken) arriving in Hollywood to chase her dream of being a star. Strange letters turn up in her mailbox, and her tub mysteriously fills up at night. Between unsuccessful auditions, Sara performs some detective work and learns that she is in the apartment where a tragedy occurred in the 1940s. Her obsession with the incident takes a fearful turn. Nakken is fantastic in her portrayal of Sara, nailing every nuance as her character goes through changes in acting styles, appearance, and attitude. Director Sophie Webb, who cowrote the screenplay with Pete Carboni, delivers a mesmerizing work that slowly peels back creepy layers and builds toward a satisfying ending. 

Beauty Juice

★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★

In Beauty Juice, Sarah (Jennifer Holland) accepts an invitation “only for beautiful girls” to the titular establishment, which boasts a lobby that blends the 1920s, 1930s, and 1980s. Not knowing exactly what the invitation entails, she will find out soon enough. Writer/director Natasha Halevi’s horror comedy microshort is long on style and colorful images and delivers some wicked dark humor in the vein of EC Comics. Holland gives a fun turn as a naive but confident and hopeful young woman.

Subject 3

★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★

Teresa Decher writes, directs, and stars in the science fiction/body horror short Subject 3, handling all three roles admirably. Premed student Cassie (Decher) has lost her father to a pandemic for which no cure has been found. She accepts the invitation of Professor Howard (Paul Greene), who feels he is on the verge of a cure, to join his team. Three years later, she visits her small hometown to seek out her childhood friend Jamie (Steven Cox), unwittingly placing them both in danger. Decher’s short boasts a moody atmosphere and a subject that hits home hard in 2020. Her fine, understated performance fits the reflective tone of the film splendidly.

Clan, The Doe, Ingenue, Beauty Juice, and Subject 3 screen as part of Female Voices Rock Film Festival, which runs online fromDecember 4–10. For more information, visit https://www.femalevoicesrock.com/.

Reviews by Joseph Perry

Categories: Festivals, ReviewsTags: , , , , ,

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