We celebrate Women In Horror Month with a stellar selection of women-made short films from some of the most promising talent in the genre.
This month, Fright Bites celebrates the many contributions female filmmakers have made to the medium of short horror films. Many of these films dip into the female experience, giving viewers a glimpse into the horrors women face every day — whether it be from a brutally realistic, supernatural, or dystopian lens.
1. Snowflakes (13 minutes)
Director: Faye Jackson
Faye Jackson’s Snowflakes follows the tale of two women, Miriam and Esther, who are about to be deported from the UK under false pretenses. However, their violent and terrifying imprisonment is short-lived as a strange ‘disease’ starts to affect the exclusively white staff and security.
Miriam and Esther’ captivity is truly horrifying as they try to reason with the captors, only for their reasoning and pleas to fall on closes ears. The raw, genuine emotion the actresses (Sharon Duncan-Brewster and Cherrelle Skeete) put into their performances is one of the highlights of this film, drawing us into the horrifying situation they are being subjected to. That combined with the many layers of truth Jackson has layered through the story makes for an impactful force of a film.Rating: 5/5
2. Exam (15 minutes)
Director: Sonia K. Hadid
Written and directed by Sonia K. Hadad, Exam follows a young Iranian girl on a day of a very important exam. However, due to unforeseen circumstances out of her control, her morning does not go as planned.
Hadad produced the film in reference to her own life experiences as a student, hoping to relate the restrictive and distressing situation that was her own education. Hadad creates a grim and highly restrictive environment for her protagonist, the stakes firmly set as we balance on a thin rope between failure and success. The young girl is highly relatable as she craves something so simple as to be given a chance to complete her education despite the obstacles set in her path. The climax of this terrifying situation is the horrific final act of desperation that seals the powerful narrative and message that is this film.
This Oscar qualified short film has now won over 30 awards and screened at more than 109 festivals worldwide. Be sure to stay tuned for when and where you can watch Exam. It’s one you don’t want to miss.Rating: 4.5/5
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3. Switch (18 minutes)
Director: Marion Renard
Renard’s Switch is a smart, creative and highly expressive short surrounding ‘the first time’ and the journey young people go through as they start to discover their sexuality, bodies and gender identity. The story follows a bisexual teenager who discovers an odd anomaly concerning their body during their first sexual encounter. Embarrassed, confused and frightened, they begin to question their worth and image. However, they soon learn that being a little ‘different’ doesn’t define their worth and that they aren’t alone in their ‘quirks’.
Although frightening in concept, the film uses its supernatural themes in an enlightening and explorative way that you’d find in most coming-of-age films. The premise is reliable since everyone has gone through such a time, especially those within the LGBTQ+ community. The cinematography and filmmaking are also highly stylish and adds to the chaotic nature of the narrative whilst the light ending leaves the protagonist with a slight sense of comfort that is easily shared with the audience.Rating: 4.5/5
4. Gaslight (15 minutes)
Director: Louisa Weichmann
Louisa Weichmann‘s Gaslight is a nail-biting, terrifying short that perfectly describes the ‘hunted’ feel that most women, unfortunately, experience throughout their lives — but also the unrelenting power of women. The film is extremely successful in provoking a sense of fear and vulnerability as a young woman, April, waits for her bus at the end of a long night shift. As innocent as her actions may be, she is unwillingly forced into a terrifying life or death situation.
April’s story represents the various issues of victims blaming and the toxic mindset of how women should behave in potentially dangerous situations. April’s attempts at escape, for example, show that escaping sexual assault is never as easy as it seems — shining a light on the ignorance of those who would blame victims for not being able to ‘fight back’ or ‘run’. However, the arguably greatest moment of the film is the climax and outcome, as April not only physically triumphs over her monster but defies the societal monsters that would further victimize her, thus reclaiming her power and self-worth.Rating:5/5
5. Woman in Stall (10 minutes)
Director: Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli
Woman In Stall by Madeleine Sims-Fewer and co-director Dusty Mancinelli is a perfect example of how horror can be derived from the every day; that a filmmaker/writer does not always need special effects, jump scares or costumes, just a situation that strikes and connects with an audience.
The short follows a young woman as she changes in a bathroom stall, only to be confronted by a man on the other side who claims that she has accidentally entered the men’s bathroom. What should be a quick, harmless interaction turns into an intense slow-burn as the man continues to carry on a conversation with the clearly uncomfortable woman as she changes.
This film expertly covers a range of issues such as victim-blaming and the vile excuses predators use to justify or minimalize their behavior. Not only that, the fear is immense as our main character is trapped alone with a man who at best is extremely ignorant to how he comes across while trying to hit up a stranger as she is changing, or at worse, has evil intentions. This film also works well in using the main character’s perspective to describe to men how they can unintentionally frighten or discomfort women, and how women don’t have the luxury of assuming that these men have the best of intentions.Rating: 5/5