[Review] 'The Pandemic Anthology' Displays The Impressive Creativity of Filmmakers Even in the Most Limited Circumstances
“2020 has its place in history as the year that a virus stopped the entire planet...
...In its first months, amid quarantine and growing uncertainty about the future, Fantaspoa Film Festival launched a contest for filmmakers from around the world to create their pandemic related stories in their homes, with the resources they had at hand. This anthology brings together the 14 most representative and creative short films produced, capturing this moment in time that, if humanity is lucky, will never be repeated”
Horror shorts exists as a unique form of narrative and often as a gateway for filmmakers before they make the leap to creating a feature length film. With limited time and frequently a smaller budget, the visual storytellers create a spooky atmosphere sometimes within as little as two minutes. The artform of short films is the fertile earth where horror directors, actors, and even make-up artists are born, as dreamful artists use the mini-movies as a means to practice their skills, earn money for larger productions, or even gain recognition. And even when possessing limited props, sets, and human contact, horror enthusiasts will find a way to produce their craft and the stories presented in The Pandemic Anthology represent the resourcefulness and creativity found within the genre.
Finishing up today, The Chattanooga Film Festival has brought horror fans a virtual festival for only $10 a day. All of the submitted movies, shorts, interviews, and more were available to stream to any United States residence. One of the unique installments available to view during the long weekend included The Pandemic Anthology. All 14 of the shorts within the collection focus on particular themes which greatly connect to living in quarantine. All of the films cover different aspects of relying on technology, experiencing separation from loved ones, and the uncertainty of the future, but each short brings a different approach to the topic.
One of the predictions for the horror genre is that the films will take a darker dystopian focus with themes of male-dominated oppressors, greed, distrust, and an overall bleakness for the future. Most likely some directors will push the boundaries and create darker and more violent worlds for horror, but The Pandemic Anthology does not just bombard the viewer with depressing shorts each more horrific then the last. Some shorts focus on the depression associated with isolation or loss, some invoke humor by choosing unlikely narrators or present a satirical approach to the material, while other films do something completely different. Tension and fear exist throughout the collection, but the overall flow of the film allows for hope for the future of filmmaking and even humanity.
Otherworldly feelings arising from grief appear in “Stain on the Wall” in which after 43 days in quarantine, solitude becomes an embodied entity which robs a woman of her sleep and sanity. “Sometimes She Comes Back,” “Endless Quarantine,” “Strain Roulette,” “Unearthed,” and “Psychopompo” use technology as both a way to communicate with others, but also experience pain and become a forced witness to something supernatural. Mixed within the possibly familiar feelings of dread are scattered bits of humor with “Baldomero” demonstrating why you should never meet up with a person on-line, and how the amusing use of dark magic may be bad for creepy dolls in “Macabre Hide and Seek,” but beneficial for cats in “Jerome: A Christmas Carol.” Further exploring themes of coveted toilet paper (“Roach”) and unhuman encounters (“Hatching Out,” ‘The Last Days,” and (kind of) “Stupidemic”), all build up to the haunting apocalyptic conclusion with “Disneyloka.” The ending film touches on themes found in Mad Max or I am Legend about a cutthroat world, but the narrator’s real concern comes from the loss of art as he reminisces on videos and songs he misses. He takes pride in his collection of films as even several decades into a pandemic, art still holds an important role in the continuation of humanity.
Many horror creators, fans, and even scholarly researchers wonder how the world-wide event of the pandemic will affect upcoming films and the overall genre, and The Pandemic Anthology most likely answers some of those predictions. As movie production is allowed to continue, the themes, narrative techniques, and technology used in the shorts will most likely serve as inspiration for upcoming feature length films. Which is important because without the continuing output of art and creativity, the pandemic will win.
The Pandemic Anthology is currently playing at the online digital version of Chattanooga Film Festival. The festival is only open to U.S. residents, so if you'd like to attend, get your badges at chattfilmfest.org/badges. The festival will be ongoing through the rest of the day, May 25th.
By Amylou Ahava
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