The Nightingale (2018)

The Nightingale
Director: Jennifer Kent
Writer: Jennifer Kent
Cast: Aisling Franciosi, Baykali Ganambarr, Michael Sheasby, Damon Herriman, Sam Claflin, Harry Greenwood, Charlie Jampijinpa Brown, Magnolia Maymuru
Seen on: 16.7.2020

Content Note: rape, racism, gore

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.

The film poster showing Clare (Aisling Franciosi) with a black bird flying across her face, covering half of it.
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Fear is an Option – Short Film Program

Fear is an Option [a play on the VIS motto of Fear is not an Option] was a collection of horror short films curated (among others) by the /slash Filmfestival as part of the VIS Vienna Independent Shorts film festival. They showed the following short films:
The Simpsons Couch Gag [You’re Next] (2015)
Directed and written by: Lee Hardcastle
[Can be watched here.]
The Chickening (2015)
Directed and written by: Nick DenBoer, Davy Force
Based on: The Shining
[Can be watched here.]
Invaders (2014)
Directed and written by: Jason Kupfer
Cast: Ricky Wayne, Jordan Woods-Robinson
[Can be watched here.]
Jack Attack (2013)
Directed and written by: Bryan Norton, Antonio Padovan
Cast: Helen Rogers, Tyler Rossell, Steve Anderson Jr.
Monster (2005)
Directed and written by: Jennifer Kent
Cast: Susan Prior, Luke Ikimis-Healey, Trash Vaudeville
[Can be watched here.]
One Last Dive (2013)
Directed and written by: Jason Eisener
Cast: Catherine Maltais, Peter Allen
[Can be watched here.]
Polaroid (2015)
Directed and written by: Lars Klevberg
Cast: Annika Witt, Thea Sofie Loch Næss, Anne Cloetta
Baskin (2013)
Directed and written by: Can Evrenol, Co-Directed by: Ogulcan Eren Akay
Cast: Muharrem Bayrak, Fadik Bülbül, Gorkem Kasal, Aydin Orak, Remzi Pamukcu
Lights Out (2013)
Directed and written by: David F. Sandberg
Cast: Lotta Losten
[Can be watched here.]
Seen on: 29.5.2016

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.

fearisanoption

[After the jump I’ll talk about each of the films individually.]

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The Babadook (2014)

The Babadook
Director: Jennifer Kent
Writer: Jennifer Kent
Cast: Essie DavisNoah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall, Tim Purcell
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
[Reviews by cornholio and Maynard Morrissey.]

Plot:
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.

The_Babadook

[SPOILERS]

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