Small Gauge Trauma at Fantasia Festival 2022

July 27, 2022
Small Gauge Trauma packs big punches for Fantasia

One of the staples of the fantastic Fantasia film festival, is the annual series of short and not so sweet pieces of film collectively known as Small Gauge Trauma. Each year, artistic director Mitch Davis collects up the best nine short horror short films he can find, packages them together – then sits at the back of the theatre, eagerly rubbing his hands together in anticipation of the audiences response.

This years edition, featured three stand-out pieces, others that were good – and some that are to be quickly forgotten. Short film-making is the purest form of cinema that a cinephile can find. Films created for the sake or art, by directors that haven’t yet cut their way into the industry. With that, comes both reward – and constraint. The freedom to create whatever the director desires is fantastic, but the budgets to do so, are often, well, small.

See Also: The Breach at Fantasia Festival 2022

Pulling content from Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Belgium, Netherlands, Australia, USA and France, for a collective run-time of just over two hours, this years edition was a fun event that was perhaps hampered by the limitations of that pesky global pandemic we were all victims of. Small Gauge Trauma is always a highlight of the festival. Always.

The films of Small Gauge Trauma 2022:
Canada | English
2021 | 7 Minutes
Director: Sam Rudykoff

Films that take the mundane every day annoyance, like a telemarketers phone call – and find a way to think about the person on the other end end of the phone, are powerful despite their small run times. Sam Rudykoff is able to do just that here, while still being heavy on the comedic elements. Simple, yet brilliant, Cruise is a great seven minutes of film.

With a cast of just three people, and a basic yet brilliant premise, Cruise was probably the highlight of the evening. Perhaps not a film that could be fleshed out into a feature, as seems to be the plan with several of the films show at Small Gauge Trauma; but defiantly one that stands on its own merits. Superb!

Good Boy
United Kingdom | English
2021 | 9 Minutes
Direct0r: Eros V

Good boy – a term given to a dog when it displays good behaviour. This good boy – is a very bad boy. Our main character is lured to a house somewhere in England to doggy-sit the Pomeranian from hell. Albeit small; it truly is the hell hound of Hades.

In a nine minute romp, this little shit unleashes all kinds of havoc on anybody unlucky enough to cross its path. At times hilarious, sometimes bloody – Good Boy is always entertaining and fun. Beware little dogs and the penance of delivering the wrong pizza order.

USA | English
2022 | 12 Minutes
Director: Chelsea Lupkin

Left on the side of the road by her psychologically abusive boyfriend as part of his gas-lighting ritual, a woman steals a scooter up off the sidewalk and rides off into the night, stopping off for a quick midnight snack before accidentally unleashing a demon. Of course, insanity and a body count ensue and our scooter thief is left a changed woman.

The loser boyfriend returns and gets kicked to the curb where he belongs – which is where her story ends and his begins. Short, to the point, with a strangely satisfying ending. Great film.

USA | English
2022 | 15 Minutes
Director: Sean Addo

A man gets his DNA test results in and is surprised to find a mysterious West African wood mask included in the box. One that gives him nightmarish sight into his ancestors’ slave dungeon whenever worn. A haunting ghost story that transcends time.

Rooted starts off well, is intriguing and seems to be going somewhere before falling into gibberish and seemingly loosing sight of its journey. The conclusion feels rushed and doesn’t make very much sense. The concept was good but the execution could have been better.

New Zealand | English
2022 | 13 Minutes
Director: Stephan Kang

Twelve-year-old Jaehee has an unexplainable gift for connecting with the interior energies of others. It’s led to her becoming a highly sought-out member of her community, with people of all ages and backgrounds coming to her for help… specifically, to perform exorcisms. At once a horror film and unconventional coming-of-age drama.

As is normally the case, highly religious backed films are often far from interesting and tend to general be the same old song and dance, and that is the downfall of Breathe. Been there, done that, no desire to retread this path at all.

Darker (Donkerster)
Holland, Belgium | Dutch
2022 | 16 Minutes
Director: Frank Van den Bogaart

When her father goes missing, young Rena enters the woods to seek out a mythological creature believed to collect the stories of dying beings. A powerful interpretation of childhood grieving through the lens of mythology, richly cinematic, and poignant to the extreme. Co-starring the great Jan Bijvoet.

Darker, or Donkerster in Dutch, is an interesting take on bringing folklore to film, and for the most part is well conceived. Although, it does get confusing rather quickly and feels as if the director struggled to find a proper end to the film. It could be a building block to something far greater in the future, however. Good, not great.

I Call Upon Thee
Australia | English
2021 | 14 Minutes
Director: Michael Anthony Kratochvil

Two young sisters in an unhappy home perform an incantation to summon… something… anything, in the hopes of bettering their circumstances. A deeply unsettling film, enormously imaginative and aesthetically singular.

Highly annoying and frustrating film that made me want to fast forward through it and onto the next piece – which I couldn’t do as I was sat in a cinema at the Fantasia film festival. The repetative narrative and dialogue was seriously displeasing and I was glad to see the film end. My least favorite film of the collection by a long way.

USA | English
2022 | 10 Minutes
Director: Rod Blackhurst

At a remote house in Astoria, Oregon, two sisters are suddenly under attack by their mother, who has inexplicably fallen into a bloodthirsty state of madness. Rod Blackhurst (HERE ALONE) has made a ferociously intense film, staged with unbelievable precision and control, largely in a single take, with an impact that will tear your guts out.

Like Darker, this is a film that has an interesting concept that ultimately goes nowhere quickly. It leaves more questions unanswered than it answers and really could have been better. It is a good effort that falls short of what it could have, and probably should have been.

Lucienne In A World Without Solitude
France | French
2021 | 31 Minutes
Director: Couturiau Geordy

The final showing, was also the most bizarre and more intriguing of the collection. Also the longest. The concept is unique and original in idea, and seems to be a rather interesting social satire. I’d like to see where this idea would go in a feature length film, as the results could be great.

Following 2019’s extraordinary Lucienne Eats A Car, Geordy Couturiau and Stéphane Caillard have reteamed for a stand-alone narrative with the same character set in a bizarre reality where everyone exists without solitude—largely because they’re always accompanied by a sibling double of themselves. Lucienne struggles in a difficult relationship with a man who has lost his twin. A brilliant, hard-hitting film, evocative of Zulawski.