BIRTH/REBIRTH – Review by Justina Walford

Birth/Rebirth shows the timely end of the female archetypes of Madonna and whore. That old trope is tossed to the curb while we move forward into a domain that overlaps traditional male archetypes but is also distinctly feminine. Dr. Caspar and Celie are the new female archetypes: the untethered seeker or scientist and the mother who will do anything for her child. And through these characters, we find an unnerving exploration of motherhood, life purpose, and our place as humans in a world of chaos and fear.

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TRIBECA FILM FEST 2023: Women and Horror – Preview by Alexandra Heller Nicholas

If you are looking for tangible evidence that film festivals are taking equity seriously, the stats surrounding the forthcoming 2023 Tribeca Festival are a good place to start. With 68% of films in competition directed by women and 36% of all features directed by BIPOC filmmakers, when these numbers are weighed up next to the high calibre names it’s frankly hard not to be impressed.

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PERPETRATOR (Berlinale2023) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

House-breaking kleptomaniac Jonquil Baptise is known as Jonny to her friends – or, at least, she would be if she had any. With her relationship with her struggling, disconnected father in tatters, Jonny is sent to live with the long-estranged – and strange – Aunt Hildie (Alicia Silverston), who seems to know much more about the teenage girl than the latter is wholly comfortable with. Sent to a strict private school, Jonny learns quickly about a spate of recent disappearances in the area of girls her age. When people she knows begin to go missing, the supernatural powers unleashed on her 18th birthday adds a dramatic added dimension to how she and the women around her deal with living in a world where such nightmarish things can happen.

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HELLBENDER (Fantasia 2021) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Izzy and her mother live an isolated but relatively happy life in the lush mountains, their reclusiveness supposedly because Izzy has a rare autoimmune disease. As Izzy soon learns, however, her mother has kept her squirrelled away from the world because they are both “Hellbenders”, defined as a hybrid of witches, demons and predatory animals. While her mother tells herself she has her powers under control, when Izzy learns that she too has these abilities, a mother-daughter power struggle collides with a supernatural coming of age story that at its heart is also a powerful tale of the maternal bond and that old chestnut, the circle of life. A film embossed with all the ferocity and heart and passion and craft of the most powerful of art, Hellbender is a reminder that when film like this is revealed as possible, we never should settle for less.

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LAKE OF DEATH – Review by Liz Whittemore

Shadow play, things coming and going, visions, all make for an interesting build-up. Add in the guy who has a paranormal podcast, the clueless boyfriend, the dickhead jock, an ex-boyfriend, the girl just trying to help, and the girl who is literally haunted by the death of her twin brother and you’ve got yourself the makings of typical haunted cabin meets local legend scenario.

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