Young Min Kim makes his feature directorial debut – he also wrote the screenplay – with Dawn, a family drama-heavy psychological horror outing. Haejin Park (Kim Ellis) may have physically left her home after her father’s suicide (shown in the film’s opening scenes) for a new life in New York, but the trauma of that memory still weighs heavily on her. She returns to the California farmhouse where she grew up to console her younger sister Soojin (Veronica Kim), who has just separated from her abusive boyfriend. There, dark secrets are uncovered and supernatural overtones are introduced. Writer/director Kim shows off a deft hand at the helm, serving up plot twists that heighten suspense while addressing the scars that PTSD and trauma can cause. Even if the dialogues are sometimes a bit stiff, Dawn looks great, delivers great performances from its two leads, and leaves viewers with plenty to think about.
An evil childish spirit tricks a young girl (Anju Chiku) into playing a deadly game of shadow tag in director Ken Ochiai’s chilling short Kageboshi. The spirit has already wreaked havoc on the girl’s family and her father (Go Jibiki) forbids her from playing the game, though she secretly challenges the spirit with a warning if she were to win. The short is rich in eldritch atmosphere, and the cast members are fully engaged in their roles. Kageboshi looks like a short proof-of-concept, and its impressive production values and promise of greater terror leave this reviewer wanting to see a feature-length version of the story.
Jenny (Kahyun Kim), a Korean woman in her twenties, accompanies Caucasian couple Isabella (Jacqueline Frances) and Theo (Ben Chase) to their home for threesome fun. They invite him to dinner, and seasoned horror fans can probably guess from the title of this movie. Good taste what might be on the menu. Writer/director Seonjae Kim delivers a wicked short with strong suspense, impressive practical effects, good performances, and a punch of a climax.
supernatural cooler Dikit (Philippines) has a feel of art and experimentation, using a split-screen, dialogue-free approach. A Mysterious Woman (Mariana Serrano) – based on the mythical creature from the Philippines known as manananggal, who can split his body in two and preys on pregnant women – goes about his horrifying business and spies through his window on his new neighbors, a heavily pregnant young woman (Mika Zarcal) and her boyfriend (Jarrett Cross Pinto). Director Gabriela Serrano packs her short film, which also incorporates body horror, with intriguing visuals and no shortage of tension, adding plenty of social commentary on how women view their own bodies, how society judges women and abuse in relationships.
Dawning, Kageboshi, Good Taste, and Dikit projected as part of Los Angeles Asia-Pacific Film Festivalwho ran May 5-13, 2022 as a hybrid event, taking place virtually and in-person at select Los Angeles-area theaters.