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Thursday, June 18, 2020

ETHERIA 2020 SHORTS PROGRAM REVIEW



  The 7th edition of the Etheria Film Festival brings you the nine best new short horror, science fiction, thriller, action and fantasy films directed by women from around the world. Etheria 2020 is simultaneously hilarious, terrifying, and sometimes heartbreaking; our films are about the loneliness and absurdity of digital interactions, the terror of complete helplessness, uncomfortable magical sexual enlightenment, the horror of conversion therapy, musical expression in the future dystopia, the surreal cycle of the final girl trope in horror films, livestreaming your *entire life*, sex with strangers gone completely horrifying, and the existential contemplation of death, life, and existence with an dying AI. Get ready to be blown away by these nine directors and their take on our favorite genres.

  Like many film festivals, the Etheria Film Festival 2020 couldn’t hold their festival because of COVID-19. Instead, they turned to having a virtual festival, and did it in a big way…streaming on Shudder! It’s a great thing for the festival, and even bigger for the cast and crews of the short films being shown. For those not familiar with the Etheria festival, it focuses on films that are directed by women.
  Many great short films go unseen by fans, but hopefully with the help of Shudder these nine fantastic films will reach the audience they deserve. They cover a wide range of topics and genres, and aren’t short on creativity. Many have a twist or two, and a message behind the madness. Some incorporate the use of technology to move their stories along, and make statements on its effect on society.
  
  In no particular order, here are some thoughts on these films: 

Waffle
Kerry is at a sleepover with the socially awkward, mysteriously orphaned heiress Katie. Friendship–in a society that grows ever isolating–is explored as Kerry learns the hard way that Katie always gets what she wants.

This film brings the horror with Katie’s obsession to have Kerry as her friend one way or the another. The back and forth between the two women is great especially while sitting down for some waffles. The waffles add some humor to the story along with their sleepover fun, but the best part might the small twist at the end. 

Maggie May
Sometimes doing nothing can be the worst move of all.

This might be one of the darkest film of the bunch. Here Maggie’s sister comes to stay with her after their mother dies. Something extremely painful and tragic happens to her, but what’s shocking is Maggie’s response to it. When all is said and done, Maggie might go down as one of the most hated characters for doing so little!

Basic Witch
Young witch Lily prepares a magic pumpkin spice latte that forces Brian to relive the physical experience of their terrible sex from the previous night–but from Lily’s perspective.

Now this is a film that’s clearly awkward for the characters, and might be for the audience too. If you ever wondered what it really felt like to be your sex partner (physically and emotionally) this film brings the audience just that. At first it might be funny, but it brings up interesting questions that each character must now deal.

Conversion Therapist
A pansexual, polyamorous trio kidnap a ‘pray-the-gay-away’ evangelical conversion therapist and torture him until he sees the light.

If you’ve ever wanted to bring pain to those who bring hate to who you are then this might be the film for you. It plays on many feelings, but the most interesting thing here might be if the audience ever feels sorry for the hateful preacher. He’s tortured both physically and emotionally much in the way he tortured others thinking he could change their sexuality. This film definitely makes a statement on turning the tables of hate.

Offbeat
In a polluted future 20-year-old drummer Olly wants only one thing: to get inside the dome, where the air is clean and the best musicians live. In order to get in, he must pass a series of absurd tests.

Finally the audience might get a little breather from the serious issues and brutality of some of the other films. Instead they might get a chance to laugh at Olly’s experience, but also feel his frustration. All he wants to do is pass the tests and join a new society, but it seems like no matter what he does the system is set against him. 

The Final Girl Returns
A driver emerges from a massacre unscathed and finds himself trapped in an endless cycle of saving the final girls. The Driver soon learns that one mustn’t fight the rules of horror, and the past he’s been driving from catches up to him. 

This short might have the feel of a traditional horror movie, but it certainly writes its own ending. Horror fans are familiar with the final girl’s role in horror, and so is the driver who is tasked with saving the final girl time after time. This film challenges the final girl ending, and asks over and over again if it will ever change.

LIVE
An online ‘livecaster’ with a dangerous brand has a crisis of conscience over her volatile career choice in a future world where jobs are limited, and conflict is currency.

There’s a lot of creativity in this film particularly in the name. It becomes an interesting play on how you say “live.” The woman here goes live broadcasting certain aspects of her life while pausing to deal with other life issues like her partner. They argue over what should go live and what shouldn’t, as she struggles with the best way to live in a new world.

Man in the Corner
What starts out as a hot hookup with his dream guy turns into a nightmare when Daniel realizes they aren’t alone in the house.

Here’s a film that will leave the audience wondering what is fantasy and what isn’t. It’s probably the creepiest film of the nine, as two guys enjoy a night together that keeps being interrupted by an unwanted third party. It will leave the audience guessing all the way to the very chilling ending.

Ava in the End
After tripping over her dog and dying, a struggling actress wakes up in a virtual purgatory and waits for her mind to be downloaded into a new body.

For those who might have cursed out technology at some point this might be the film for you, or maybe not if you can’t handle technology giving you back talk. This film sets up an unique end of the world sequence in a tech heavy atmosphere. It’s a great story filled with humor all the way until the end.

  Those are a few quick thoughts on the nine films that make up the Etheria Film Festival 2020. It’s a real shame the event got cancelled, but great that they still found an audience on Shudder. There’s a fabulous mix of films that will strike all kinds of emotions in horror fans. Watch the films, enjoy them, and maybe even check out some of the other work the cast and crew of these films have done!

  HorrO

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