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A World of Dark Comedy short film festival @ Backlot Studios
Hosted by Voces Art Networking Group
Friday, October 26, 2018


Last Friday evening, Over The Fence Comedy Film Festival’s spookier, more sordid sibling arrived at the luxurious venue of the Backlot Studios to present hours of the world’s greatest dark comedy in recent years. I was lucky enough to attend (with the moral support of my boyfriend) to check out the wealth of creepiness.

Immediately we were kindly greeted by organiser Greg and his comrades, given our voting slips and talked through the evening ahead. We felt slightly unsure if this was the place for us as most attendees seemed a good twenty or thirty years our senior. Nevertheless, we were excited for what was in store. On the other hand, the cynical side of me had been feeling a sense of trepidation as I worried whether the films would be ‘dark’ in the sense of degrading minorities or the marginalised. Thankfully, this was not to be the case.

The ten films of varying lengths started with a Danish film titled Shopping For One. Centring around a bloodthirsty lady who cannot shop for her weapons without the hardware store employee getting under her feet, I was more so intrigued by the cheery musical choices contrasted with the bloody visuals rather than the story itself. Although it must be said that applause is due to the actor portraying the employee for truly embodying that over-enthusiastic worker character we are all familiar with.

Local film Trypophan was to follow, starring Stranger Things actor Dacre Montgomery. Montgomery plays a chocolate addict whose obsession is likened to that of a hard drug. His loved ones struggle to get him clean as he relapses consistently. The cliched script was slightly off putting as it utilised too many addiction tropes to keep me interested, but conversely I was in awe of the beautiful cinematography and carefully constructed sets.

Dirty Work from Hungary focused on some authentic, yet shady blokes, all part of a shifty circle of affairs. One needs his ‘dirty work’ dealt with (a clogged toilet), yet all unravels when the man hired to assist critically misinterprets the job. The story-line, delivery and execution were all second to none and had the entire audience losing it.

Another highlight of the evening came with the longest film, the Polish Grandma’s Day. A lonesome spinster dwelling in a rundown and filthy flat unexpectedly employs a random young man to pose as her grandson, so as to help plead her case as she faces the prospect of being evicted. Though not being as comedic as the other films, the gritty visceral filth of the situation and settings, as well as some brilliant pieces of acting, led to this film being the most unforgettable of the night.

Unfortunately, a few of the films were to fall short. FVCKED out of Canada told the tale of two geeky guys on a mission to hunt down some weed, but become embroiled in a web of overdose, murder and other shocking happenings. Like Trypophan, it just happened to be one of those films where you felt the comedy was just trying too hard to be comedy. The goriness and OTT drama didn’t do it many favours either. Similarly, the British #MURDERSELFIE relied all too heavily on overdone millennial-based humour to get a rise, but this did seem to go down well with the Gen X/baby boomer demographic in the audience. Nevertheless, the films were entertaining despite not being examples of top quality work.

A spanner in the works came with The Dinner Party. What started off as a poorly scripted and paced tale of two murdering burglars soon turned into a hilarious, surrealist mess as they assumed the identity of those they had slain. In particular, the skilful use of ridiculous close-ups had us in stitches, giving us a real Adult Swim kind of vibe with the production aspects.

A World of Dark Comedy was clearly put together by people with an incredible skill and passion for films, which shone through in every aspect of the evening. Despite not loving each and every piece, it was evidence that there was something in there that catered for all preferences of comedy. We felt warmly welcomed, thoroughly entertained and are now incredibly keen to see what next year’s Over The Fence has to offer.


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