Review: BALLETOMANE (2019)
When you think dance and horror, one film comes to mind, Suspiria. Whether the original or remake, the tale of ancient witches at a ballet school looms large in the genre. And I was expecting something along those lines from Balletomane. But George James Fraser (Salt And Iron) has given the combination a new spin and delivered a somewhat more realistic tale of black arts and ballet slippers.
A 20-minute short, Balletomane begins with a quote from H.P. Lovecraft before getting into the tale of Ellie (Courtney Costa). Ellie is a ballet dancer, though far from the most promising one in her class. But she shows up and gives it her best effort regardless.
Rather than encourage her, the other students, led by the Head Bitch In Charge or HBIC (Nina Rose) ridicule her constantly. After a picture of her after she’s taken a fall goes viral around the school, she reaches her breaking point. She calls up some supernatural vengeance with deadly results.
Of course, calling any film that involves calling up demons realistic is a bit of a stretch. But with its more personal tale of one on one retribution, Balletomane feels much more intimate and plausible. It’s a slow-burning film, unsettling and creepy in its matter of fact approach.
Ellie may be a witch or some form of black magician, but there’s nothing fancy to her art. Crushing and mixing ingredients, saying the right words, etc. It’s all simple, down to Earth stuff, no flashing lights or bizarre apparitions needed.
By going in the opposite direction from what the plot might lead one to expect. He also shows what can be done with talent, lighting and a killer soundtrack. Flickering candles instead of coloured gels, dark synth goth songs instead of Goblin’s pounding rock.
It feels almost as if Balletomane was designed to take that basic combination of witches and ballet and go completely in the other direction. Nothing fancy or flashy, just solid film making. If that was its intent, then it is a success.
Balletomane will be playing festivals, you can check the Stained Glass and Blood Bath Facebook page for dates and locations.