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SMALL GAUGE TRAUMA (SHORTS) [FANTASIA 2018]

Written By:

John Higgins
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“Nine Strains Of Nightmares From Five Countries”, proclaims the publicity for this year’s core (or gore) group of shorts in another series of small, compact visions from those film-makers out to shock and thrill audiences at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal.

Classic influences coupled with individuality were the thrust of the shorts on show, and there is much optimism from these contrasting film-makers. Cronenberg, Cloverfield and Fulci hold their wand over the stories on show.

Mateo Marquez’s The Invaders tells of a young woman on the run from an unknown source in post-9/11 paranoia. Marcos Mereles’ two-minute The Dead Man Speaks shows a montage of Dutch town photos as an anonymous spirit reflects on the virtues and desires of a ghost living amongst us. Mael Le Mee’s French offering Aurore will have much appeal for fans of David Cronenberg’s perverse physical horror in the tale of a teenage girl’s unique talent for physical touch during intercourse, reminding one of Teeth and Videodrome. Ryan Oksenberg’s American short Damage Control tells of a couple who arrive at what appears to be a slum homestead which the man has plans and a vision for, but they soon discover that an unwanted occupant is already inside with a chilling revelation.

Those of you who have only ever experienced the Tasmanian Devil through those classic Looney Tunes of yesteryear will get a kick out of Heidi Lee Douglas’ Devil Woman, an entertaining Australian short in which some female travellers run into some local thugs in a forest, but the local wildlife has a vicious bite in reservation for all of them. Entropia, from director Marinah Janello, is the most unusual of the pack, chronicling an ageing woman’s desire to stay young with various natural therapies, as well as trying to satisfy her bizarre sexual desires.

Riley Was Here, directed by Jonathon Rhoads and Mike Marerro, tells of a young man who is sent to a house where a lady seems to offer something called “The High”, but before long it turns out she wants something dark and desirable in return on a personal level. Josephine Darcy Hopkins’ The Day My Mother Became A Monster, based on a dark folk tale, tells of a mother and daughter relationship and the dynamic affected when she is infected in her hand.

The final entry, Aurelien Digard’s Besoin Dead, is firmly and proudly in the realm of classic Fulci like City Of The Living Dead and The Beyond. Here we see an engaged couple preparing for the best day of their lives, just as the locality has transformed into the undead. Quite funny in parts, and possibly the first time a mobile scooter has been used as one of the transports of choice.

Another winning set of ideas and concepts, and some promising talents on the horizon.

John Higgins

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