A guide can crack open an entire new world for the reader. Within the case of Australia’s all-female-directed horror movie anthology, Darkish Whispers, a mysterious ancestral guide left upon a mom’s passing to her daughter turns into the very literal entrance level into an unsettling universe.
For us, what lies inside is an eclectic bundle of 10 quick movies, starting from a gothic animation, to a twisted mermaid fantasy, to an Indonesian ghost story. It was conceived by writer-director Megan Riakos, who issued a call-out to Australian ladies filmmakers for brand spanking new or current works, and people chosen have been granted their very own distinctive chapter within the anthology.
There’s actual pop to the directorial visions on show on this assortment of psychological thrillers, a few of which dip their toes into horror. The visually putting homage to old-school horror in Janine Hewitt’s 2005 quick The Intruder, starring Asher Keddie (pre-Offspring fame) as Zoe, is gorgeously shot on 35mm movie. With a raging storm exterior, there’s loads of dramatic, flashing lightning and shadowy interiors to maintain the suspense alive within the quick operating time. When Zoe’s estranged buddy Angela (Bree Desborough) unexpectedly arrives at her doorstep, it trades loud soar scares for the stewing worry of a lingering presence exterior.
One other spotlight is Kaitlin Tinker’s The Man Who Caught a Mermaid (2016), which performs tonally as a light-weight, jovial comedy earlier than unleashing its disillusioned and delusional male protagonist, Herb (Roy Barker). Isabel Peppard’s 2006 stop-motion Gloomy Valentine finds tragic melancholy in its Corpse Bride-like main woman; her sunken facial options and shattered coronary heart gorge a visceral, bloody grief.
Anthologies have had a formidable half to play within the horror movie style, with 1945’s Useless of Evening serving to to popularise the format. Within the Australian context, there are Tracey Moffat’s Bedevil and Warwick Thornton’s The Darkside, in addition to the latest all-Indigenous-helmed Darkish Locations. All unveil the breadth and depth of the native expertise pool: there’s no lack of thrilling, various nationwide filmmakers working in these areas.
Time, although, within the anthology’s packed-in presentation, is essential in making an impression. So it’s within the particulars that some tales shine over others, particularly in how rapidly they’re in a position to conjure up temper and ship typically advanced concepts.
Briony Kidd’s Watch Me (2016) is a difficult story of an unhinged well-known actor’s determined spiral in entrance of her boyfriend and private assistant; and Dorset-set The Trip (2011), starring Anthony LaPaglia, leans too closely and swiftly into the overt racism of its harmful white male saviour.
Regardless of this, there are some efficient performances within the tearful eyes of Rachael (Sarah Bollenberg) within the claustrophobic, elevator-situated Birthday Woman (2008), in addition to in Indigenous supernatural thriller Storytime (2005), the place a baby goes lacking inside the tangled roots of the mangroves within the Kimberley area.
The narrative binding these tales collectively centres on Clara (Andrea Demetriades) who, upon coming throughout the Ebook of Darkish Whispers, turns into compelled to learn on: first out of curiosity, then by a extra elusive worry. Each time a narrative ends, there’s both a visible or sound cue that spills over into actual life, comparable to when blood drips from Clara’s enamel on to the web page, after she “reads” Grillz, Lucy Gouldthorpe’s 2015 black-and-white vampiric Tinder romance. It’s unlucky that the framing machine is lower than impressed, if tacked-on, with little connection between it and the quick tales themselves.
As an entire, Darkish Whispers is scattershot in its consistency from one story to the subsequent, partly as a result of its nature as a compilation of movies from a spectrum of filmmakers’ various tastes. As an illustration, it’s a jarring change in period and aesthetic between the lo-fi dreamy magic realism of Katrina Irawati Graham’s White Music to the crisper, modern-day younger grownup comedy of Little Share Home of Horrors.
When appreciated individually, although, there’s distinctive artistry and promise in every chapter. The subtitle to Darkish Whispers is “Volume I”, suggesting each an supposed sequel and the truth that, if one chooses to search for it, there’s an abundance of untapped expertise within the pages and past.
• Darkish Whispers is out there to stream in Australia and the UK by a number of video-on-demand providers