Stephen Porzio takes a look at Nicolas Courdouan’s 22-minute drama with horror elements. The short recently had its world premiere at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Providence, RI (19 – 21 August ) and will go on to compete at the Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, OR (7 – 9 October).
A meditation on grief, as well as a nicely twisty and surprising horror, Nicholas Courdouan’s Radha is a rather effective short film. Sue Walsh stars as Saoirse, a woman trying to form a new life in the aftermath of a tragic event, who stumbles upon the enigmatic titular dancer (Kojii Helnwein).
The short benefits from some memorable, well-executed set-pieces. For example, Radha’s central dance would not be as compelling if it wasn’t so tightly edited. The camera lingers on her contorted body, not revealing her face. This is then juxtaposed with the gazes of her gaunt-looking viewers, who she claims she “helps”, creating a real sense of dread, even when the viewer is unaware of what exactly there is to fear.
The clothing and lighting contribute to this paranoid atmosphere. Through the dark moodiness of the room and the way Radha’s black hair and clothes hang off her body, the short evokes the feel of a J-Horror. At times, the titular character resembles Sadako from Ringu, particularly with the unnatural way she moves.
There are moments within the short where the dialogue does not ring true and is delivered rather stiltedly. However, this is easy to forgive when there is so much else to like. The final scene, taking place on a beach, is gorgeous looking, resembling the coastal scenes from the similarly Irish Calvary and The Eclipse. Also as it continues, Courdouan’s film interestingly plays with audience expectation. Radha is less the villain we expect and more a beacon to Saoirse of what the movie’s title translates to in Irish (vision, sight, aspect).
The short also builds an intriguing mystery. Who is Radha and where does she come from? This is something I would be curious to see explored to some degree should Courdouan expand this twenty-two minute short into a feature length.