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The Final Girls Berlin Film Festival opens with a dazzling and diverse selection of horror shorts about the darker side of love, lust and longing.

The Final Girls Berlin Film Festival is an impressive showcase of horror cinema directed, written, or produced by women. In addition to several outstanding feature films, the festival is known for its incredibly diverse selection of short films from the most talented, subversive, groundbreaking and genre-redefining filmmakers around the world.

As Festival Director Sara Neidorf explains, “Final Girls is bringing you a whole different spin on the genre — exploring different fears and fantasies, with more diversity behind and in front of the camera, and a critical gaze on the structures and systems plaguing society.”

The festival kicked three days of immersive programming on Thursday, January 31st with two feature films — the remarkable identity crisis thriller Nancy (review here) and the queer werewolf coming-of-age story Good Manners — as well as a spellbinding block of shorts with the shared theme of TAINTED LOVE.


My Monster, Dir. Izzy Lee (USA)

I first fell in love with director Izzy Lee’s wonderfully weird and utterly charming vision of love and monsters during last year’s annual Women in Horror Month Massive Blood Drive. Spearheaded by the Soska Sisters, 30 killer filmmaking teams came together to bring awareness to blood donation by creating daily horror-themed PSA shorts. Lee contributed a short, two-minute cut of her film My Monster for the blood drive.

While the film still packed a punch in its condensed run time, I loved seeing the full 7-minute version, which gave the short much more context, humor, and heart. Talented writer, filmmaker, and journalist Izzy Lee (Innsmouth) has crafted a memorable and highly effective short that proves it’s not what’s outside that makes you a monster, but rather what’s in your heart.

The short features a cast of indie horror favorites, including Adam Egypt Mortimer (Director, Some Kind of Hate, Holidays), the always exceptional Brea Grant (Beyond the Gates, Dexter), and Steve Johanson. It boasts great, old-school practical effects, impressive makeup work, and some simple but exceedingly clever lighting and camera tricks that create the perfect creepy atmosphere.

Lee is a truly smart and highly original storyteller — a rising star in the world of indie filmmaking who definitely deserves your attention.


Instinct, Dir. Maria Alice Arida (USA)

Instinct is dark and sexy thriller from writer/director Maria Alice Arida that immediately takes hold of the viewer and never lets go.  Exquisitely shot and flawlessly acted, this powerful short dazzles with its compelling characters and intriguing, surprising story about loneliness and desire.

This 18-minute psychosexual drama follows a beautiful older woman named Isabelle (Christine Kellogg-Darrin), a lonely gallery owner who is nervously introduced to the young, completely unencumbered performance artist named Camila (Jordan Monaghan). Despite her apprehensions, Isabelle is enchanted with the stunning seductress. The two form a connection, leading to an unexpected late night encounter.

Instinct is an extremely stylish, well-crafted short about the hunger for human connection and the intersection between life and art. I found this to be a really memorable and provocative short that made me hunger for more from this talented filmmaker.


Sell Your Body, Dir. Jaanelle Yee (USA)

Sell Your Body was director Jaanelle Yee’s student thesis film, and it’s a great introduction to a promising new filmmaker. Extremely funny and wonderfully twisted, this sexy 11-minute short is a millennial horror story about crippling student debt and the digital dating age.

It stars the wonderful Nadira Foster-Williams as a medical school dropout who is stressed and overwhelmed by insurmountable debt, deeply frustrated with the lies she feels she was told about the bright future she could expect after college. In an effort to make quick cash, she resorts to using a dating app for a lurid hookup. She catches the attention of a young couple seeking a threesome.

What follows is a clever, highly entertaining romp that ends in a much unexpected but very satisfying way.


Pages, Dir. Shaan Couture (France/USA)

An engaged couple trying to write their vows is unwillingly forced to face their darkest fears from a storied past in Shaan Couture’s nightmarish examination of love and secrets — and the gnawing fear that you can never really know the heart of another person.

An effectively chilling tale, this nearly 8-minute short focuses on a man who finds his betrothed’s handwritten journal, which chronicles the deeply disturbing details regarding a past love affair. But is the tale from his writer wife-to-be just another of her creative writing projects — or is it a monstrous confession and a dangerous foreshadowing of his potential fate.

The beautifully macabre visuals in this chilling film are really exceptional, and you can watch the complete short right here.


Supine, Dir. Nicole Goode (Czech Republic/Canada)

In this dark but moving tale, a taxidermist named Sylvie spends her days isolated, shut off from the world in her home in the mountains of France. Her only companions are the deceased animals she’s preserved in lifelike poses. She talks to them, tells them stories, confesses her secrets — like how much she hates endings.

One day, while out driving looking for roadkill to add to her collection, she sees a man hitchhiking. Living in such a remote village, she rarely sees other people. Thus, she can’t help herself from stopping and hearing the man’s story. The two strangers are instantly drawn to each other, bonding over tragedy and melancholy. With riveting performances from the two actors, resulting in a very believable on-screen chemistry, Supine effortlessly draws you in and keeps you fully invested throughout the 25 minutes of exquisite filmmaking.

Although director Nicole Goode gives plenty of hints as to where this heartbreaking tale is headed, the disturbed but poignant ending still made a big impact.


Puppet Master, Dir. Hanna Bergholm (Finland)

The short that left me most enraptured in this film block was Puppet Master, Hanna Bergholm’s hauntingly beautiful and surreal tale of desperation and manipulation.

A lonely woman, desperate to be the object of someone’s affection, allows a man to transform her into a living puppet. Despite being fully under his control, she finds a sense of purpose belonging so completely to another person. However, when the man becomes disinterested and turns his attention elsewhere, she quite literally falls apart — before turning the tables and transforming from puppet to puppet master.

Visually stunning and highly evocative, Puppet Master speaks volumes without a word of dialogue. It’s an uncompromisingly unique and daring film told through 15 minutes of puppetry and dance that is an absolute must see.

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