“Gothic South” Southern Filmmakers
CRITIC’S PICK: “Gothic South” includes the premiere of “I Could Just Die, and That Would Be All Right” by Atlanta filmmaker AK Espada, who conveyed dread, icky effects and sharp interpersonal dynamics with her 2021 short, “This Is Our Home.”
“I Could Just Die” marks an advance in Espada’s craft, capturing the psychology of a depressed young wife (Courtney Locke) who contemplates sacrificing herself to a mysterious creature in the woods. Espada packs a lot in 20 minutes, including themes of suicide, codependency, and transformation, as well as an homage to The Blair Witch Project. The film stands alone as a short, but contains enough implications that could support expansion to a feature film.
Giovanni Tortorici’s “Eat Your Heart Out” is more playful, showing an awkward first date between a vegetarian (Wendy Melkonian) and a meat enthusiast (Daniel May). Anchored by two stalwart Atlanta stage actors, “Eat Your Heart Out” begins like a comedy sketch but ends on a note of surreal lyricism that offers a new take on the term “carnal knowledge.”
Christa Boarini’s moody “Brackish,” from Florida, depicts an aquatic creature who stalks humans from the swamps, like a sexier update of The Creature From the Black Lagoon. Louisiana’s Brooke H. Cellars directs the remaining film in the program, “Violet Butterfield, Makeup Artist for the Dead,” about a mortician beautician (not seen at press time).
The program makes a loose interpretation of the idea of Southern Gothic and leans more on contemporary anxieties than the kind of decaying South being consumed by its own past. But the “Gothic South” shorts are entertaining in their own right and introduces four filmmakers who are ready to say something new.
From the venue:
Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, 30306.