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Black Women In Horror: Altschmerz (2016) Movie Review

Altschmerz
n. weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had—the same boring flaws and anxieties you’ve been gnawing on for years, which leaves them soggy and tasteless and inert, with nothing interesting left to think about, nothing left to do but spit them out and wander off to the backyard, ready to dig up some fresher pain you might have buried long ago.

Written by Josh Carples & Somica Spratley
Directed by Somica Spratley

I tend to be a huge fan of narrative shorts that leave an audience with more to discuss by what isn't explained. Horror films in particular work to prompt your physical and emotional senses into a challenging space of discomfort while comforting in its acceptance of whatever your imagination conjures. Give me enough in visuals to create a meaningful story that may say more than dialogue can. It's not a cinematic approach that everyone vouches for. But it consistently provides room for debate, making a film much more memorable.

Altschmerz, from the mind of genre makeup artist and budding filmmaker out of Alabama, Somica Spratley, tells a risky yet successful visual tale; a cathartic meditation of the mind, body, and spirit. The woman we follow as she arrives to what we believe to be at her demonstratively affluent home, practices yoga like a pro and takes the most relaxing of baths hides something a bit dark behind her routine.

Her sterile surroundings tell another tale with warmer colors and the company of another woman we're unsure is a part of her memories, desires, nightmares or all the above. As the film completes its last frames, blood spills. There's a peak into the supernatural and the hint of human guilt.

Mental health and non-conforming to archaic, societal norms play important parts in understanding Altschmerz. Spratley is laying bare an honesty and vulnerability by channelling memories into a story shot with such beauty and precision that I promise will not leave viewers restless. It is a film you cannot look away from, not even for a second with effects and editing choices that want to swallow your mood.

Altschmerz premiered at the Sidewalk Film Festival's After Dark Shorts in Birmingham, Alabama.

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