Celebrating the work of women in genre film, the Bloody Mary Film Festival is back for its third year at the Carlton Cinema in Toronto. Tonight’s shorts program will begin at 9:00 pm, following the feature film Brown Girl Begins (2017) at 7:00pm.

Are you looking for a good reason to stay up late and get spooky tonight? Here are three shorts to check out:

Parlour Tricks

Parlour Tricks (2018)

First time director Tristan Risk opts for a comedic bent in her black and white short about three embittered family members who employ the services of a medium to help discover the location of their Aunt Esther’s missing will. Set in a single location – the titular parlour – the production makes great use of of well-timed sound effects (a xylophone, a barking dog, a tuba) to highlight its comedic elements.

Kudos, also, for crediting Francis The Cat, who plays an integral role.


Dulce Hogar

Dulce Hogar (2018)

Director Giovana Olmos’s Dulce Hogar is heavily reliant on cinematography to tell its story; the nine minute short only contains a few brief lines of dialogue to help establish its dystopian premise.

Set in a mysterious sun-scorched crumbling tenement where the rent is paid in a horrifically human fashion, Olmos capitalizes on the audience’s lack of information to build suspense as the residents run out of time to collect payment and disaster strikes. Reminiscent of both Lovecraft and The Cabin In The Woods, this Mexico City-shot short is simple, but effective.


Fantôme (2018)

The cool colour palette and a strong internalized performance by lead actress Marie-Josee Lefebvre help make Erica Orfino’s Fantôme a standout. The 13 minute short is very deliberately paced, eschewing a straight-forward plot. Instead the focus is on France (Lefebvre)’s grief and trauma regarding an event involving her son, whose spirit may or may not be haunting her (the details of what happened are suggested, but never explicitly spelled out).

Orfino expertly uses the film’s technical components to maximize the unsettling dread of empty, suburban homes. Her use of slow pans and framing to generate uncomfortable tension around every day objects, as well as the ominous death-rattle that underscores the short’s soundtrack, really reinforces Fantôme‘s slow and methodical creepiness. I would have preferred a slightly punchier pay-off at the end, but Orfino’s undeniable talent definitely makes her one to watch.

Check back tomorrow for Valeska’s picks for Friday’s Short Program and we’ll see you at the Carlton!