Creeping sense of dread

Egle Rameikaite watches 23 (short) horror movies at a film festival in East Finchley

The audience at the Phoenix Cinema prepares to enjoy multiple categories of short horror film – (Credit – Egle Rameikaite)

What does horror mean to you? Is it dark corners, desperate screams and bloody floors? Or is it something more personal, like a fear of dentists? 

An East Finchley audience got to explore all that and more when New York’s Malarkey Film Festival came to London for the 2nd time this week for the ‘Creepuscula’ event hosted by the Phoenix community cinema.

Filmmakers had been encouraged to expand, experiment with and redefine horror in multiple categories including Femme Spook, Expanded Horror, Big Gore and Miscellaneous. Of around 750 filmmakers from across the globe who applied, only 23 were selected to be shown. 

The successful entries included: I Transform for You, a 3D animated love story that, in less than 8 minutes, captured the dark side of love but also touched on the consequences our actions have on the natural world. 

Another, Night Bus explored the fear of getting old through blood-freezing suspense and mystery on the birthday of a night bus driver. 

Leftovers was inspired by a real-life character and emotions that, with a bit of imagination from creator Mansi, became a peculiar and creepy animation. 

Another animation, Undark, was about the real happenings of The Radium Girls. Despite being based on a horrific tragedy of the early 1900s, it provoked giggles in the room. 

INSIDE YOU was an innocent visualisation of what happens inside our bodies when we consume food, but it managed to bring out shocking audience reactions.  

The screening was followed by a short Q&A with the filmmakers, who shared their inspirations and future plans. 

“You see your work existing in the communal sphere,” said Josh (director of I Transform for You), when asked about the importance of the work being on the big screen, “It’s nice to hear people talk about it.

The directors of Night Bus, Henrietta and Jessica highlighted the value of a “physical reaction” saying, “The idea comes to life when you see it in the audience.”

The event was led by the festival director Zalan Pall and Malarkey co-founder and director Claire Kleinman, who said: “We ended up going for shorter films to keep the variety, also there is something about the experimentation in shorter pieces.”

A key aim for Malarkey is to give low-budget or first-time filmmakers the chance to showcase their work. Claire explained that, although the festival doesn’t offer monetary prizes for the winners, it creates opportunities for networking – including by enabling filmmakers to work together and share resources. 

Claire felt the event had gone well saying: “The success comes with how generous the audience is and I think this was a very generous audience, I thought it was really great. Films were well received, and we had a good turnout for a Wednesday event.”

Full list of films and filmmakers:

Royal Blue, Carlon Hardt

BIG Sister, Dean Hoy

Undark, Ustin Danchuck

I Transform for You, Josh Splindler

Fish out of Water, Nonisha negi

A Strange and Terrible Dream, Matthew Lloyd

INSIDE YOU, Semanshkin Erik

Dinner intended for two, Bahram Akbari

BREAKDOWN, Victoria Scarborough

Leftovers, Mansi Maheshwari

The 13th Slice, Morgann Gicquel

Night Bus, Henrietta Ashworth & Jessica Ashworth

HELP ME, Nadine Lang

Embrace, Alex Zeltser

A Whim To Kill, Tiange Xiang

Floor 43, Sophya Kebets

Sickness, Jack Carrivick

My Self Portrait, Muriel Sago

Fa ancora caldo qui giù, Paola Nerilli

THE BUTCHER’S EARS, Marius Staubach

Bogus., Jacob Watkinson

Desintegration, Gwenaël Chevalier

I’ve travelled 9,000 km to see you, Kang Le

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