Review: ETHERIA Season 2: Assassins, Cannibals, Time Travellers, and Witches Bring Terror to the Small Screen
The second bloody season of the anthology series is back! I love anthologies, which may or may not have a theme running through them; in this case, not such much a theme as just films directed by women. And not 'just' in the dismissive sense; women's voices and perspectives are diverse and divergent, as reflected in the anthology series. If you're a fan of short films, or want to discover films you missed at festivals or filmmakers whose names you'll want to know when they get bigger (and a few already have), or if you just want to see some fun and scary horror and sci fi shorts, then this is a great series to tune into.
Like any anthology or shorts programme, some of the films are stronger than others. But the Etheria team has great curating skills, and it's likely more a matter of taste if you enjoy some of the shorts better than others.
Sweet Little Unforgettable Thing (Chloe Okuno): This is a creepy riff on Little Red Riding Hood, only this time our heroine is wandering through a roller rink, trying to abandon her mousy image for a sexy one, and befriending the wrong kind of man. The last scene is very well directed, and the 70s slasher vibe works well with the story.
Sheila Scorned (Mara Tasjer): Sheila gets in trouble when she messes up a deal, but the guys who punish her have no idea who they're dealing with. I always love to see a woman kicking ass (especially one with whom I share a name), and the 80s crime thriller mood and delicious slightly campy dialogue make for a fun ride.
Gödel Incomplete (Martha Goddard): Elizabeth Debicki stars as a physicist who keeps traveling back in time, having an affair with renowned scientist Kurt Gödel as they research scientific theories. While the concept is interesting, it ends up being more about the love story than Debicki character's discovery; a rare short that might have been more interesting as a feature with more room to explore its subject and characters.
Shevenge (Amber Benson): Full disclosure: I programmed this short for FrightFest, so I am rather partial to it. Three girlfriends fanatsize about how they would punish their cheating, negligent boyfriends. Hint: fists fly, food is poisoned, stakes are burned. An indulgent and funny fantasy.
Cowboy Kill Club (Gabrielle Lim & Jessica Parsons): 'Sexpats', as they are not-so-lovingly referred to, flock to countries like Thailand in search of the stereotype of the Asian woman: meek, docile, willing; but one club takes this to an extreme with an unholy experiment. A good example of horror blending a real and serious issue with some old-fashioned zombie fun; perhaps a bit slow in rhythm, but there are some great practical gore effects.
Carved (Mary C. Russell): A dangerous escaped prisoner switches bodies with a cop, and then encounters a group of wild women on their way to Vegas. This dangerous scenario is in turns hilarious and scary, as Russell keeps ramping up the stakes as the girls scramble for their lives. A scary yet enjoyable turning-of-the-tables.
El Gigante (Gigi Saul Guerrero): (Again, dislcosure, this played at FrightFest). An early short of this Mexican-Canadian horror trailblazer features a rather hideous wrestlign match between a poor lost soul and a human monster, supported by his cannibal family. It's great fun to watch this short which thrusts you into its bizarre and terrifying mythology, pretty sure of the outcome and yet unable to avert your eyes from the horror.
Zone 2 (Anna Elizabeth James): It's a familiar sight: an underground bunker, two people who are trying to survive the apocalype. One is a teenage boy, partially blind and paralysed, unable to leavve, or says his caregiver, a middle-aged woman. But with a smart twist in the middle and the end, and two people who are joined in love and fear, and this is another short that could work very well as a feature. A clever tale on a familiar story.
Witches (Michelle Steffes): A trio of witches find out more about each other than they wanted as they spend the evening casting spells. A hilarious look at what can really happen when three women get together and in-fighting ensues, with power dynamics and jealousies running rampant. A very tongue-in-cheek and smart parody of a timeless image.
Suddenly One Night (Arantxa Echevarría): Over the holidays, a woman lets her neighbour in after he claims theives are in his apartment, and things get creepy fast. It's a bit tiring to again have a woman character let a stranger in where we know where it's going to go, and even though the film is well directed, it relies upon a lot of standard cliches that make it feel even longer than its already long running time.
While there's a bit more horror than other fantastic genres represented in Season 2, it's a worthy collection, and one that can be savoured one short at a time, or binged at once.
Etheria Season 2 will be available on rent on Amazon on September 24th.