[Editor’s Note: Final Girls Berlin Film Festival ran last weekend from February 1-3, 2018. The lineup was awesome and we had the chance to cover a few of the festival’s selections from afar. Without further ado, here are some of FGBFF’s fantastic films.]
On Saturday night, the festival included a series of short films called Serial Killers. I covered three of the films in this block yesterday. Here are a couple more of the great films that played during this block.
Dir. Lucia Former
Marta is a Spanish language film about a wannabe serial killer and (she hopes) her first victim.
Marta lures her victim into her trap by pretending she is having car trouble. At first, Marta’s motive seems to be financial as she tells her intended victim she has cameras set up to make a snuff film. She tells her captive that has seen horror films so she “knows how it works”.
She wants to be the Suffragette Assassin, the first female serial killer. Evidently, they’ve never heard of Aileen Wuornos in Spain. Marta says she wants to create a new line of female psychopaths, not the ones who go crazy and kill their children, but one who “kills like a man” She knows what she’s doing because she’s watched all the cop shows and forensic files.
She then confesses that she picked her victim because he is skinny and easy to carry.
Marta proceeds to give a fantastic commentary on how ludicrous the movie “The Lion King” was. I’m not sure how it fits in with the narrative, but it’s written and delivered hilariously.
There seems to be a feminist undertone in that Marta wants to be as good as a man in a “vocation” that is predominantly male. It doesn’t help when the victim claims she must have a hormonal balance to be acting the way she is and that he can get her a good psychologist if she just lets him go.
The title character is pathetic and difficult to empathize with, but I think that is the point the film is trying to make. She is attempting to become a killer because she wants to, not because she needs to, or is driven to by some meaningful motivation. Serial killers are driven to do what they do by base desires stemming from childhood trauma – they don’t just wake up one day and decide to become a serial killer. No matter how hard Marta tries she won’t be like them, and in that sense, she fails.
While Marta works as a black comedy, it ultimately has a darker and more satisfying ending. If you watch it, make sure you have your subtitles on, unless you’re fluent in Spanish.
Strange as Angels (2017)
Dir. Austin Elson
Strange as Angels is not so much a horror film as it is a black comedy, a very black comedy.
At just under a half hour in length, the film is heavy on dialogue and light on action but manages to be a very engaging film. This film is thinking man’s horror. The first several minutes consist of a conversation between a couple on their first date at a restaurant. Alice, played to perfection by Emile Krause, is a well-read, intellectual barista, on a first date with Charlie, a shallow guy who works in politics.
Krause is captivating, playing Alice as both a free-spirit who seems blissfully unaware of real world events and a well-read intellectual who has strong opinions about art and life. She carries an air of sinister secretiveness about her and seems to have an ulterior motive for dating this guy who, to her disappointment, is her polar opposite.
The next day at the coffee house, she is questioned by police about her date with Charlie, as he has been found dead, with his throat slit. After the police leave, a woman named Eddie, played by Kate Raines in her first film appearance, strikes up a conversation with her. Girl on girl flirtation takes place and they go on a “date” together, a picnic near a wooded area.
At this point things take an unexpected twist – not quite as predictable as I thought. I was pretty sure I knew where this film was headed but was proved wrong by a surprising reveal.
Strange as Angels may be heavy on dialogue, but it is a captivating film if you listen to the observations being made in the conversation between Alice and Eddie.
The gore is minimal, and it really isn’t a funny black comedy as much as it is a very dark black comedy, and I mean this in a positive way.
I love the cinematography, especially during the picnic scene, where the camera continually orbits around the two women, giving a constant rotating view of them.
As the two characters move from the sunny open area of the picnic to the shadows of the trees, one starts to get the sense that things are about to turn as dark as the scenery.
Another great achievement of this film is how the writing, directing and acting work together to make you have empathy for the characters; that even though these characters do bad things, they are likable people. That isn’t an easy feat to accomplish. I hope to see more from Austin Elson and Emily Gallagher.