In Hole, JeongMi (Lim ChaeYoung), a social worker with the Women and Family Affairs Department of a local government in a South Korean city, checks on a pair of young siblings (Kwak SooHyeon and Son JiYu) who have been missing from school. At first the older brother gives seemingly rehearsed answers explaining their parents’ absence, but soon he exclaims that they are at the bottom of a manhole opening in one of the bedrooms. At the request of the boy, she opens the cover of the manhole and the weirdness of the short that began to burn slowly begins to increase. Writer/director Hwang HyeIn invests the short with an ominous feeling as soon as JeongMi gets her first look at the rundown apartment building in which the children live, and a sense of dread permeates the proceedings from then on. The set design of the dilapidated apartment adds to the creepiness.
Incomplete (United States, 2022)
★★★ out of ★★★★★
Intensity: 🩸🩸 out of 🩸🩸🩸🩸🩸
Directed by Zoey Martinson
Evan (Marchánt Davis) is under house arrest in a nicely appointed home that his sister helped arrange. There is a big problem, though: the place is haunted. Not only that, but Evan, who is Black, is scrutinized by caucasian neighbors, and he has to check in with easily-missed phone calls and frequent, random breathalyzer tests on a machine that shows the titular prompt even when he checks in correctly. Writer/director Zoey Martinson keeps things going at a rapid clip with viewers feeling almost as breathless as Evan. Davis is great as the confused protagonist. Incomplete serves up some food for thought regarding social commentary along with its supernatural — as well as grounded-in-real-life — uneasiness.
La Vedova Nera (France, 2023)
★★★ out of ★★★★★
Intensity: 🩸🩸🩸 out of 🩸🩸🩸🩸🩸
Directed by fiume and Julian McKinnon
An Italian teenager (Siro Pedrozzi) falls off of his bicycle and injures himself, and then asks to use the phone in what turns out to be a cinema whose customers are gay men interested in public sex — along with a killer. The boy finds himself pulled by feelings of terror and arousal, as cowriters/codirectors fiume and Julian McKinnon craft a dizzying, giallo-tinged short in which the carnal and the violent coexist.
Reviews by Joseph Perry
Hole, Incomplete, and La Vedova Nera screen as part of SLASH Filmfestival, which runs September 21 through October 1, 2023 in Vienna, Austria. For more information, visit https://slashfilmfestival.com/en/.