Plot: Clare (Aisling Franciosi) was convicted in Ireland and shipped to Tasmania where she works as a maid for the army stationed there, under the command of Hawkins (Sam Claflin). She was supposed to go free years ago, but Hawkins isn’t ready to let her go. Things escalate and Clare finds herself devastated and bent on revenge against Hawkins. Hawkins is traveling through the forest to the next big city, so Clare resolves to follow. She hires the Indigenous Billy (Baykali Ganambarr) as a guide and moved by her desparation, Billy agrees against his better judgment. Making their way through the forest comes with its challenges quite apart from a hard treck – especially for a white woman only accompanied by a Black man.
The Nightingale is a rape-revenge film without exploitation and a feminist look at colonialism that, unfortunately, fails a little when it comes to considering intersectionalities. In any case, it’s a demanding and harsh film that is worthy of attention.
They put together a strong collection of short films here, some of which were connected to the /slash Filmfestival – where they did show You’re Next, the basis for the Simpsons Couch Gag; both Baskin and Monster were turned into feature films that were also part of the festival program – Baskin and The Babadook respectively; and Jason Eisener had segments in V/H/S 2 and The ABCs of Death, where Lee Hardcastle also made an appearance. The short films ranged from very funny and silly to outright terrifying and most of them were really effective, even if not all worked for me.
[After the jump I’ll talk about each of the films individually.]
Amelia (Essie Davis) struggles with her life and particularly with her son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) who is eternally scared and crying for attention. The love of her life – Samuel’s father – died when Samuel was born and things have been slowly falling apart for Amelia ever since. Then one day a new picture book shows up on Samuel’s shelf. It talks about a monster, the Babadook, that once heard and seen will never leave again. Samuel is terrified and all of Amelia’s attempts to calm him have no effect. Then Amelia starts to feel the presence of the Babadook herself.
The Babadook was amazing and for me, it was definitely the highlight of this year’s /slash. I had goosebumps pretty much the entire time. I works both on a literal and a metaphorical level, it’s scary, touching, smart and it looks great. In short, it really is the full package.