Chromatic Black hosted a virtual Horror for the Holidays Festival. While none of the movies were about the holidays proper, they were just as stressful as the holiday season is long. The fest featured five short films written and directed by Black filmmakers. I appreciated this fest because shorts do not get enough love even with various festivals and Alter. However, shorts are also where we find tons of filmmakers that have not been given the same opportunities as cishet white men in Hollywood.
The Black Banshee
Directed by Kyla Sylvers
A banshee, foreseer of death, sees a night out with friends cut short by police brutality. The abrupt ending left me with a couple of questions. Perhaps there might be a full-length someday. It does end right when it feels like it is about to start.
The Company You Keep
Directed by Laura Fielder
A woman is being pushed to the end of her rope by a toxic friendship. This one feels claustrophobic and probably hits different after experiencing isolation these last couple of years. It was a fun descent into madness and I like that it subverted my expectations. I’d like to talk to Whoever handles set dressing about the number of creepy dolls they have access to.
The Dark Strums
Directed by Steven Russell
A musician that sold his soul to learn how to play guitar is now back to haunt a younger musician in the present day. The actual lead was easily one of my favorite characters of the fest. This short never gives us an exact answer but plays with ambiguity. There were a lot of cool visuals that sometimes made me forget it was a movie and not just vibes.
Directed by Zena Dixon
“Have you ever listened to the sound a tangerine makes when you peel it?” That question is key to this upsetting little film. It wasn’t just the way our lead peeled fruit or the off-putting things he said while he did it. The sound person elevated all of this to a truly disturbing 10. I don’t know if I had ever really experienced terror with my ears before this and I never want to again. If you make it through to the end you’ll see the story also peels back to reveal another sinister layer.
Directed by Garrick Wade
A mother worried about her ailing child meets a psychic that challenges her beliefs. This was the longest film of the festival and had a lot going on. Because our main character told us she was a Christian it felt like that was supposed to be the big theme. However, that got lost as the plot thickened and we began to see where this would end up.
I love a festival that’s short, scary, and gives me new names to keep an eye out for in the genre. Looking forward to seeing what Chromatic Black does next.