A woman (Rhiannon Morgan) walking alone by the sea narrowly avoids becoming the victim of a thief (Stephen Oates, Incredible Violence). Rather than report him to the authorities she invites him to dinner. This sets the stage for New Woman, a 20-minute short by director Benjamin Noah and co-writer C.H. Newell.
A title card informs us that this is 1888 and Jack The Ripper stalks the streets of London And that one woman has crossed the Atlantic to find quieter surroundings. In this case a small Newfoundland coastal village complete with a suitably large and brooding estate. Over an elaborate dinner, small talk is exchanged. And then, those most ominous of words. “I have something to show you” are spoken.
New Woman is a gothic film and it has captured that look and feel beautifully. Noah has cited Coppola’s Dracula and Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon among his influences, and it shows. For an extremely low budgeted film, it has incredible production values.
The dining room where much of the film takes place looks like it belongs to a noblewoman. The lighting and cinematography bring out its beauty with stunning effect. It’s no surprise that Noah’s credits include working in the camera department on several films and TV shows.
The film is gothic in the original literary sense of the word. The horror is mostly quiet and non-explicit. Things are said and implied in the conversation for example. And later, once we find out what’s happening, they tend to be heard, not seen. Accordingly, New Woman will appeal more to fans of atmosphere and mood-driven films. Those looking for action and gore will be disappointed.
New Woman is playing this year’s Blood In The Snow film festival. It will screen November 24th as part of the “Emerging Screams” block of short films. You can check for other screenings on the Facebook page.