Western viewers and people who reluctantly assimilate to Western thinking have certain expectations when it comes to horror. I’m probably wrongfully assuming that half of Indigenous viewers come to the latter category but thankfully, Indigenous creators are thinking out of the horror box. Sometimes, they mix horror with other genres like comedy, which will always feel refreshing. At other times, the shorts in imagineNative’s seventh shorts program, Witching Hour, show that all monsters are human.
First up is Cowlitz filmmaker Joseph’s Clift’s Dear Stephen King, instead of using Indian Burial Grounds in your books, have you thought of using European Burial Grounds? Clocking in at 80 seconds, the ideas here are mostly as expansive as that mouthful of a title. I’ll get back to those ideas in a bit. But I like the simple animation on top of a white background. And now back to the ideas. Sure, it’s missing the one sentence, but its irreverence makes it my favourite of the block so far.
A queer Sami woman (Timimie Marak) dances her pain away in Eili Brastad’s Skadja, the program’s next short, but even all that dancing can’t take the intrusive thoughts away. This short gets some creative point in using bright cinematography instead of hiding its monsters in the dark. I’m not sure if I like the way it deviates from horror but I like that it’s sticking to its guns.
The last short in the program is Inga Elin Marakatt’s Unborn Biru. Here, a Sami woman steals from a dead body to feed her daughter, not knowing the consequences. The people who saw this at Sundance were meh on this for dumb reasons. So, it’s my job to look for actual criticism against or for this. Sure, maybe the pacing is off, but it competently sets cultural context before it brings its effective scares.