Swedish filmmaker Jonathan Wilhelmsson's imaginative sci-fi short is more Her than Star Wars, exploring the simulation hypotheses in a cute and entertaining way. Local actor James Fraser's voice can be heard in the film, which was exec produced by Australian Holly Fraser, making this technically an Australian/Swedish co-pro.
A proof of concept for a feature film, Visual Effects Artist Andrew Marks' (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) directorial debut, starring José Zúñiga and Bodhi Elfman, is a creepy standalone that will resonate with horror fans, and maybe even more so, with filmmakers who have spent too many hours in post production.
With roles in upcoming Queensland shot features Black Site and Escape from Spiderhead, and a lead in trending short film Decommissioned, the Californian born and raised actor is reaping the rewards of hard work (and the successful COVID response in Australia).
Years in the making, Kosta Nikas's future warning strikes a chord... cashless cards anyone? Following his impressive indie feature debut Sacred Heart, this short film bodes well for what the Sydney filmmaker will come up with next.
Matt Vesely's (My Best Friend Is Stuck On The Ceiling) latest short - produced by Closer Productions - is a real lo-fi sci-fi charmer, featuring David Quirk (Rosehaven) as a human that makes a special connection with an 'immobile robotic service unit'. The film was selected for Tribeca Film Festival in 2020.
“Horror is a woman’s genre,” author Grady Hendrix opined in his fabulous book, Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ‘70s and ‘80s Horror Fiction, “and it has been all the way back to the oldest horror novel.” The ambitiously titled Dark Whispers: Volume 1 certainly agrees with this notion, offering ten horror stories directed by women (with an eleventh wraparound segment weaving the whole caper together) and the result is a mixed bag but with definite highlights.
Dark Whispers: Volume 1’s thin wraparound yarn is about a woman named Clara (Andrea Demetriades) who has inherited her mum’s Book of Dark Whispers. She cracks the tome to have a squiz, and we’re off to the races. What follows are ten short films that veer wildly in terms of quality, and have no real connective tissue other than they were helmed by women.
Highlights include The Man Who Caught a Mermaid (dir. Kaitlin Tinker) – about a bloke who does what’s on the tin but there’s a great twist, Grillz (dir. Lucy Gouldthorpe) – a very modern take on a vampire tale, The Intruder (dir. Janine Hewitt) – which stars Asher Keddie (Offspring) and features a neatly subverted story, Gloomy Valentine (dir. Isabel Peppard) – a striking stop motion animated work of gothic gloom and Watch Me (dir. Briony Kidd) – a lush mood piece that evokes David Lynch in full-on bizarro mode.
The problem is, these films feel like what they are: a loosely assembled collection of genre shorts stuck together. This gives the entire piece a disjointed feeling that never quite coalesces into a cohesive whole and makes the pacing feel clunky somehow.
The concept of a female-only anthology isn’t new. The superior XX did it back in 2017, and while it’s definitely a creatively laudable exercise, Dark Whispers: Volume 1 doesn’t quite stick the landing. Still, if you find yourself in the mood for a few creepy shorts, and want to support women in the arts, this may provide modest thrills.