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Evergreen (2022)


On the day of her immigration interview, Mia (Malin Barr) struggles to understand the difference between what’s real and what’s a figment of her imagination. Evergreen sees Mia and her husband Seth (Zach Appelman) struggle to come to terms with their current situation. When their hosts seem to be hiding something, and seem to have damning information about Mia and Seth, the two must fight for one another and for their lives.

It’s instantly established that Evergreen is a horror film. Using intimate camera shots/angles and a perfect score, viewers are able to tell that the things that will soon follow will be of the horror sort. Once that’s established, the film never looks back–moving deeper and deeper into the genre. With only a short amount of time to develop itself, the decision to jump right in rather than string viewers along is brilliant, and Evergreen is effectively captivating and creepy at the same time.

I’m incredibly impressed with the casting. This is a good looking cast, and their aesthetic juxtaposes the tone of the film. This juxtaposition is endearing and fun–but more importantly it helps to develop the horror present in the film. Due to the fact that this group looks so perfect, they present viewers with something like a Stepford Wives vibe, allowing the horror to be present in each and every scene throughout Evergreen. It’s important that Barr (who’s also writer and director) use every bit of what she has available to her in order to develop horror and intensity throughout this seven-minute short. It seems that she’s mastered the ability to take advantage of this casting, use it to propel Evergreen forward, and ultimately find it success.

Immigration has been a hot topic for some time now, and I’m not sure that it’s going away any time soon. Evergreen tackles this subject in an incredibly unique fashion. Turning the process of immigrating to the United States into a horror film is a bold move, and it has the potential to frustrate some viewers. However, the way in which Barr develops this story pulls the focus far enough away from the topic without ever abandoning it. The reason that this works so well for Evergreen is because viewers never feel that immigration (or any point of view regarding it) is being forced down their throats–but they are still given the ability to appreciate the fact that it’s important to the film. Viewers are able to try to decipher the difference between fiction and reality throughout the course of Evergreen, and I genuinely appreciate this about the film.

While I haven’t seen everything that Film Maudit 2.0 has to offer this year, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Evergreen is the best of the festival. It has everything that viewers need. It’s quick to the point, it forces viewers to think, and it develops horror and intensity in a way that everyone can understand and appreciate. The casting is such an important part of the film, more than just having people that are capable of acting. They certainly create relatable emotion, but their ability to both aesthetically juxtapose an intense tone and support it is incredible. Evergreen truly isn’t just the best film at Film Maudit 2.0 (based on what I’ve seen), it’s one of the best short films of 2023.

Written & Directed by Malin Barr.

Starring Malin Barr, Zach Appelman, Rana Roy, Andrew Dits, etc.




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