Film Review: The Madame In Black (Vinsencius, 2017)

The Madame in Black‘, or ‘Svarta Madam‘ is a Swedish 24 minute short film written and directed by Jarno Lee Vinsencius. It centres around two siblings, Alex and Emma, who play a childhood game they used to play and are tormented by the object of the game, the Madame in Black.

I came across this film on a Facebook group, and what initially caught me was the poster. I found the poster so dark yet intriguing, and I desperately wanted to know more about the film. When I found out that the film has  won 24 international awards I jumped at the chance to see it and I’m really glad I did, as it was so enjoyable.

The plot of the film is simplistic and somewhat formulaic, but this works really well. Not only does the plot fit the film’s length well, as it doesn’t really leave any questions to be answered, but the simplicity also allows for character development and atmosphere to shine through, which I feel were the best parts of the film. Each character was well defined in their personality and also in their relationships, with hardly any exposition, which allows the plot to progress quickly. I also thought the characters were quite likable and I wanted them to win throughout the short, helped a lot by the terrific performances of the actors.

My favourite part of the entire film was the beautiful imagery and camera shots used throughout the film. Each shot was used really well not only to move the film along, but to give the film an eerie beauty to it. I loved the shots of the main house in which it was set, and not only was the film shot in a way that increased suspense and creepiness, but in an aesthetically pleasing way. The cinematography was my favourite part of the film, and I was genuinely surprised to find out that the film had not won more awards in this category.

If I had any minor issues with the film, it was with the character of the Madame in Black herself. Although I felt her styling was very similar to the Woman in Black from Hammer Films’ 2012 offering, I could overlook this as it was obvious how they were trying to portray her. However, I was slightly disappointed by her backstory as to me, it did not seem to come across a lot in her actions or motivations throughout the film. I felt that if her backstory had been left out but the initial game that is used had been left it would not have impacted the story. For me, the backstory given does not particularly link to the character seen on screen and I would have been just as scared if her being there was not explained, however she was terrifying and I felt that Ellinor Rosander portrayed her really well, especially in her not-quite-human movements.

Svarta Madam‘ or ‘The Madame in Black‘ is a terrifically eerie short packed full of suspense and I could not take my eyes off of it. 9/10.

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