Fantasia 2023 shorts program review: The biting brilliance in ‘BORN OF WOMAN’ wows again.

Fantasia Festival 2023 logo


(2023 shorts program)

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Fantasia’s top-tier showcase of intimate auteur genre visions returns with eight works from six countries that will leave you shaken and amazed. 


A crashed pilot seeks a way out of her unfamiliar and harsh surroundings. As her hopes of rescue fade, memories become her saving grace and doom. This beautifully lit short takes advantage of its pace. A final reveal shocks.

Se Dit D’un Cerf Qui Quitte Son (Said of a Deer That Sheds Its Antlers)

A black comedy version of The Lottery, this film kills off its eldest family members, and everyone is cool with it. This laugh-out-loud absurdist short had me grinning uncontrollably. Salomé Crickx has a real winner here.

Only Yourself To Blame

In a sharp look at rape trauma and its eternal demons, filmmaker Noomi Yates‘ 8-minute short creates a powerful statement that speaks volumes.

Sweet Tooth poster 2023Les Dents Du Bonheur (Sweet Tooth)

What begins as a bring your daughter to work story quickly spirals to a darkly absurdist commentary on class. The production design and cinematography have you believe this short is a timeless French narrative drama. Director Joséphibe Darcy Hopkins takes us down the rabbit hole of deranged power structure, revenge, and respect.

The Taster

A near-future scenario plays the backdrop for director Sophia Bierend‘s Fantasia short. A young woman becomes the official taster for a high-ranking general. Learning about the recent demise of her predecessor, her insight into the fearmongering of her new environment grows clearer. Mandy Peterat‘s production design is top-notch. THE TASTER is one hell of a treatment for a feature. It screams franchise development.

Madeline Brewer in PRUNING


Racism and folklore come together for a sweet tongue-in-cheek revenge tale from Michelle Krusiec. It is a satisfyingly smirk-inducing addition to the program.


Writer-director Nicole Mejia‘s visual metaphor for generational trauma comes to life through a beautiful combination of Seth Macmillian’s camerawork, Alain Emile’s music, and performances. Its inevitability haunts you.

A Shudder Original review: ‘THEY LIVE IN THE GREY’ feels like a scary and emotional stranglehold.


While investigating a child abuse case, a young social worker discovers that a supernatural entity is tormenting the family. To save the parents from losing custody of their child, she must confront her fears and use her clairvoyance to stop the malevolent force. Written and directed by brothers Burlee and Abel Vang (The Tiger’s Child.) They Live in the Grey stars Michelle Krusiec (Hollywood), Ken Kirby (Good Trouble, Dynasty), Ellen Wroe (For All Mankind, Shameless), Madelyn Grace (Don’t Breathe 2).

In my humble opinion, horror must be enthralling to justify 2-hour runtime. Shudder’s latest original film, They Live In the Grey, earned every minute of screen time with its terrifying plot. Malevolent energies torment Claire, already mired in personal grief. Your heart sits in your throat as you watch her battle demons, both internal and otherwordly. They Live In The Grey is a story of unresolved trauma and redemption that makes your skin crawl.

Michelle Krusiec as Claire is phenomenal. The guilt and terror she carries will break your heart. Seeing a kickass, vulnerable, genuine, and captivating Asian lead is the best. More, please! Watching this film as a parent brought an unrelenting fear and visceral reaction. Krusiec owns every frame. She plays every single beat just right.

A little Sixth Sense and a bit of The Conjuring, the script, penned by our directors The Vang Brothers, has a progression that never ceases to intrigue. (Thank you for a fully-fleshed-out female lead! Huzzah!) Disturbing imagery, gruesome sound editing, and solid special effects makeup will excite the typical genre fan. The overarching melancholy hangs heavy, consuming Claire and the audience. The scares are incredible. A keen eye may spot cleverly placed ghosts in the vain of Mike Flannigan‘s The Haunting of Hill House. They Live In The Grey has honest-to-goodness franchise potential. Shudder, I’m looking at you for an original series greenlight.

Premieres February 17 on Shudder.

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