This one is a true nerve racker! Director Joséphine Darcy Hopkins takes an unnerving body horror approach to class division in Sweet Tooth. Young Madeleine (Lou Deleuze) accompanies her mother to a mansion, where her mother will give manicures and pedicures to wealthy women. Madeleine is invited by the hostess to go downstairs and play with the well-off women’s children, where a board game is in progress, with the goal being reaching a castle and becoming queen. Eugénie (Katell Varvat), the leader of the girls, tells Madeleine that real money is required to play. With only a coin that she received from the tooth fairy, she buys into the game, which soon becomes a battle of wills as Madeleine goes from unwilling participant in continuing to someone obsessed with winning, no matter the cost. Deleuze is excellent in her portrayal of a young girl desperate to show that the wealthy girls have nothing on her, and Varvat is splendid as her foil. Bodily trauma abounds as the stakes are raised in this well written (Hopkins cowrote with Jean-Jacques Kahn), suspensefully directed, great looking short that comes highly recommended.
Foreigners Only (Bangladesh, 2023)
★★★★ out of ★★★★★
Intensity: 🩸🩸🩸🩸 out of 🩸🩸🩸🩸🩸
Directed by Nuhash Humayun
Bangladesh/U.S. coproduction Foreigners Only takes a darkly comic and decidedly horrific look at racism and injustice. Hasan (Mostafa Monwar) is a tannery worker who simply wants to rent an apartment — no easy feat in Bangladesh, where landlords only seem to want to rent to white expats. Hasan’s frustrations mount thanks to preferential treatment of foreigners in shops and rentals alike until he takes a brutal, gory step toward improving his status in his home country. Some chilling effects and a disturbing climax are at play in writer/director Nuhash Humayun’s short, but the message is the strongest element.
The Third Ear (U.S., 2023)
★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
Intensity: 🩸🩸🩸 out of 🩸🩸🩸🩸🩸
Directed by Nathan Ginter
Sammy (Devin Burnam) is a custodian in an art museum who decides to try his hand at being a nude model for an art class. As he looks over the students’ work, he notices that someone has drawn a third ear on the back of his head — which he discovers is really there. It begins to cause all sorts of auditory and psychological problems, which drive Nathan Ginter’s short into flesh-crawling body horror territory. With solid production values including eerie sound design, as well as a stirring performance from Burnam, The Third Ear is another fine fright-fare short from the director of The Businessman and Last Seen.
The Law of the Jungle Gym (U.S., 2023)
★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
🩸🩸 out of 🩸🩸🩸🩸🩸
Directed by Yoon Hei Cho
Weird, wild, wacky, and fun, Yoon Hei Cho’s vivid animated short follows a group of elementary school students who discover that they become what they eat. As farm animals and wild animals appear, food mixtures lead to the creation of monsters and the threat of destruction beyond the schoolyard. Colorful, with a very unique animation style and creative beasts aplenty, The Law of the Jungle Gym is a blast.
Reviews by Joseph Perry
Sweet Tooth, Foreigners Only, The Third Ear, and The Law of the Jungle Gym screened as part of SLASH Filmfestival, which ran September 21 through October 1, 2023 in Vienna, Austria. For more information, visit https://slashfilmfestival.com/en/.