Monday, 5 January 2015


vasalisa is a short horror film by lora pendleton. it's kind of a tough one to write about because really the atmosphere created by the sounds and the images is more important than the story, but there is a narrative here about a woman searching for a witch.

the filmmaker employs some really interesting techniques to tell the story. the film is shot in a mix of colour and black and white, and is also full frame rather than widescreen, which makes it feel quite claustrophobic and acts as a nice contrast in the open air scenes. much of the film takes place outdoors, with well chosen compositions that sometimes reminded me of maya deren's meshes of the afternoon (yeah, i studied film theory at uni, deal with it. on a serious note if you haven't seen meshes of the afternoon you should check it out - it's one of the most influential films ever made and it will only take 13 minutes of your time). added to this is a surreal soundscape that creates a feeling of unease throughout.

but despite it's artistic touches this is a horror film and i found the images of the witch, particularly the early flashes, quite disturbing. when the witch finally reveals herself it all gets even more surreal and you're not sure whether she's doing something bad or not, which i think was the point and it's refreshing to see something that allows you to make your own mind up about the ending. the final sequence brought to mind another film i really liked, rob zombie's lords of salem. i know that film divided people but i thought it was amazing and i often find the combination of straight horror imagery presented through an arthouse lens to be really effective.

the one thing i could do without were the still frames as they took me out of the story a bit due to the change in aspect ratio, but other than that i loved it. also, there were no other cast or crew members credited so i'm assuming lora pendleton did everything herself, which is a pretty amazing achievement considering how good it is. if you're into horror or surrealism or both and you have 7 minutes to spare you can check it out below.

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