Day 28: Female-Helmed Horror Movies For October

Short Films



Directed and Co-Written by Lisa J. Dooley


5 minutes

I watched it on

A young woman (Rae Olivier) wakes up in a coffin and you’d think that’s the worst of it. But the challenges only keep coming. It’s terrifying. The claustrophia is so real and yet, Dooley manages to make that buried coffin a preferable place to be by the end. That’s some smart storytelling. Her costumes are gorgeous and disturbing at once. And that switch from tight and controlled to swirling and active camerawork really shows she knows how to shoot the scene the best way to tell a story, as opposed to that “I’m showing off my super specific so you know it’s me because that’s somehow more important than telling my story” style you sometimes see.


Dooley is an alum of USC film school (like me – Go Trojans!) and NYU drama school so girlfriend did some heavy duty training. She’s directed a long list of shorts and is working on turning “Persephone” into a feature. It would transfer to the longer format so seamlessly; this short could feel like the cold opening. I hope I get to see the full length version.


The Captured Bird

Written and Directed by Jovanka Vuckovic


11 minutes

I watched it on iTunes.

A little girl (Skyler Wexler) goes into a castle, where she meets some floating octopus-like monsters. The monsters were gorgeous. I can see why Guillermo del Toro was one of the Executive Producers. But apart from them, I didn’t get much of anything out of this. It wasn’t scary or, apart from the last shot, even all that threatening. I dug the running maggots motif. But I didn’t understand what the little girl was doing or represented. It’s certainly painterly in its visual style but I wasn’t invested in anything. It reminded me a bit of “Suspiria,” both in that overall feeling of just plain confusion but it sure is gorgeous and specifically in that hallway walk.


Vuckovic also directed a short in the anthology film, “XX,” which was comprised of shorts all directed by women. I enjoyed “XX” overall, and I was especially a fan of Vuckovic’s segment, entitled “The Box.” I don’t want to risk spoiling that one by loglining it – just check it out. She was also the editor of “Rue Morgue” magazine. It makes total sense that her monsters in “The Captured Bird” are so damn beautiful as she was also a visual effects artist. She’s been just a total champion for representing female voices in horror. She’s currently in post on her first feature, a sci-fi action flick called “Riot Girls.” I didn’t fall in love with “The Captured Bird,” but I did so love “The Box.” So I’m down to check it out.


Danger Word

Directed by Luchina Fisher

Written by Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes


19 minutes

I watched it on YouTube. Thanks to Brodie Hubbard for the recommendation.


13-year-old Grace (Saoirse Scott) and her grandpa (Frankie Faison – “The Wire” and tons of other awesomeness) are making their way in a zombie-infested world. Grandpa trains his granddaughter to shoot guns and to be prepared. He tells her, in an awesome nod to zombie fan debate, “That’s the kind you wanna meet, nice and slow. I hate those runners.” Right away, I liked director Luchina Fisher because she’s smart enough to know that whenever possible, cast actors from “The Wire.” And that pays off. The performances are strong, even with some of Scott’s brand-newbieness popping up here and there. Fisher is an African-American filmmaker and so she gave us a zombie movie with exclusively African-American characters. It’s always so exciting to see more diverse voices and characters in horror. The writers are an African-American wife and husband. Tananarive Due is an accomplished author and professor and Steven Barnes has a ton of TV writing credits, mostly sci-fi. “Danger Word” had a lot of heart. It could have used some trims here and there and sometimes the (I’m assuming) tiny budget shows. But I was with it for that nineteen minutes, which can be a lot for a short. It looks like Fisher is primarily writing and producing documentaries but I’m greedily hoping to see another horror flick from her and these writers soon, even if I still don’t get what that title means.