Mournful Mediums is a short films program in the Blood in the Snow Festival which is a selection of the best in Canadian medium-length shorts.
Director: Andrew David Osborne
Cast: Katherine Ross, Nathan Bigec, Daniel Coo, Ryan Heffernan
Vicinal is a 20 minute short about Thom and Romina who moves into an apartment in the city when a former tenant Walter shows up to pick up a package and asks for a tour to see what they’ve done with his old place when things get weird after he claims he forgot something in the little cubby hole in the upstairs bathroom leading to the attic.
There’s quite a bit to like about this one particularly the atmosphere as it plays really well on the mysterious and dark attic and what it could hide. It starts building right from the beginning and is reinforced when Walter arrives and strange things happen. It plays well on hiding what is really hiding in the shadows. While some of the creepy moments are fairly expected, it still manages to send chills down the spine as they all struggle to go into the attic and whenever they disappear inside, most of the time its all behind the ceiling until the very clever reveal.
While the acting could be better and more natural for Thom and Romina, Walter is just the right amount of eccentricity and odd to make this uneasy feeling with his presence and making his warning about the attic all the more valid and creating this lingering uneasiness. Its a well thought out story.
Director: Camille Hollett-French
Cast: Christina McInulty, Eugene Lipinski, Nneka Croal, Pam Kearns, Kyra Weston
When a disillusioned woman is implicated in the disappearance of a lonely aging scientist, she must convince the police that hope has the power to bridge dimensions. – IMDB
Written by its female lead Christina McInulty, Spark is a fairly slow-paced and wordy tale as a woman recounts the events of the disappearance of a lonely scientist. The concept behind it is pretty good and the execution also works pretty well. The tale is one about hope and belief specifically about bridging dimensions so it all dials down to whether the woman’s story will convince the police. As she recounts the events, what happens plays out in the short which is pretty good.
There are some nice cinematography in this and the script is pretty decent. The only deal with this is that it doesn’t seem to pack enough of a surprise. In the end, its about what consequences she would have is the police didn’t believe her because it felt like it was set up for the audience to already believe that she witnessed this unbelievable event so it made the story feel like the premise was really promising and fun but the payoff was a little lackluster.
Director (and co-writer): Ray Raghavan
Cast: Maria Frazer, Margarita Iturriaga, Reece Presley, Christian Lagasse, Kyal Scott, Claire Johnstone
A family of immigrants is chased through the woods by border patrol. But they’re not alone. – IMDB
The first thoughts when reading the synopsis is that we will be watching some sort of Predator inspired short. In some ways, it did feel that way and nothing makes me happier than living up to my expectations and actually AlieNation kind of surprised it as well. There’s a pretty decent flow of events here. With the mother and daughter separated and the mysterious monster lurking in the forest relatively unknown and unseen until the big finale. Its a good use of keeping things mysterious. At the same time, they are being hunted by border patrol. The tension and adventure is who will get to them first.
While the acting for the border patrol cast seemed a little rigid, the mother and daughter did do a pretty good job. As they run all over the forest and sneak here and there to avoid the border patrol, they slowly figure out that there is something else there. The whole story is overall well put together.
Director: Adrian Bobb
Previously reviewed for Toronto After Dark HERE.
Angakusajaujuq – The Shaman’s Apprentice (2021)
Director: Zacharias Kunuk
Cast: Madeline Ivalu, Lucy Tulugarjuk, Jacky Qrunnut
A young shaman must face her first test-a trip underground to visit Kannaaluk, The One Below, who holds the answers to why a community member has become ill. – IMDB
The Shaman’s Apprentice is one of the unique shorts of this batch. One because its an animated short and two because it features an Inuit tribe and uses their language as well. Its makes it rarely seen and very unique. What also makes it stand out is the stop motion animation which is done really well especially with the facial expressions of the Shaman and the apprentice.
The premise of going to the underground brings in a fantastical element and plays on the dangers and death. There’s this really wonderful moment as they climb down where they leave the shadows of the skeleton behind and it goes away when they go back up after the task which is very stylish.
I’m not particularly familiar with Inuit tradition or folklore but it definitely feels like some of that is injected here especially when the front of the entrance to the underground is guarded by a giant dog who can sense fear and the story revolves around a taboo while also could be interpreted as their beliefs.
I don’t know how much of this is fantastical and how much is actual Inuit tradition but this was a fascinating short film. It is really stylish and some part of the story feels like it doesn’t elaborate enough but the main message of the message is easy to catch.
***This BITS Film Festival program Mournful Mediums are going to be available on November 21st on Super Channel at 12am EST***
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