This review will feature on the emerging short films of Ugandan writer and filmmaker Dilman Dila.
Dila is known in his country for his creative writing and poetry, having won some prestigious honours- including a Commonwealth Short Story Prize and the Jalada Prize for Literature. He was even nominated for Best First Feature Film at the African Movie Academy Awards in 2014 for his film Felista’s Fables. He is now developing screenplays for short films.
Dila has created Dilstories, a small production company of his own that incorporates his name in Hindi (Dil = heart in Hindi). Dilstories represents “Stories from the heart”.
In late 2016 Dila aimed to release one short a month through 2017 and has released them on YouTube (links will be provided,
with the three shorts that I analyze in this review).
Dila funds his films via his patrons page https://www.patreon.com/dilstories and offers perks to all who donate to his projects.
The short films I will be focusing on are from differing months. In December Dila released WHAT HAPPENED TO JILTED LOVERS , the first of his year long series of shorts dealing with strange relationship demises, with either science fiction or horror twists. In February CURSED WIDOW BLUES was released and in May he iced his creative cake with the short HOW TO START A ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE.
WHAT HAPPENED TO JILTED LOVERS(2016)
A woman rejects a man. Heartbroken, he plots the perfect revenge with the belief of an evil group called The Clique of Jilted Lovers.
This short was my least favourite of those I examined. It was good in the sense that the two main characters were played well and their responses to one another appeared genuine. The actual short itself was a tad muddled though.
It featured floating screen effects that were evidence of the restrictive budget, and sadly for me (when used) seemingly detached me from the story when they were used as it evolved. Also the score was a little odd in places. I understand the ‘to each his or her own’ principle, but like the floating screens this abruptly broke the focus for me at times.
The featured couple intrigued me, and the simple but effective cat and mouse game was well played out and showed the strength in the casting as well as the writing and direction.
https://youtu.be//FpU2y1SD-5M (What Happened To Jilted Lovers link)
CURSED WIDOW BLUES (2017)
Love from beyond the grave! Even after his death, a man vows that no other will love his wife. So a deadly curse haunts the woman.
This film was a reflection of Dila’s evolution within the romantic horror short film world.
I found this short was so much more well harnessed, than his earlier effort, and the score definitely fit it much more effectively.
A rhythmic tempo swells in places and adds to the chaos that ensues on screen.
This time round our featured players are equally great, each playing their part in a very bizarre love triangle quite well and helping with the developing of a heavy sense of dread at the same time.
As the plot thickens and dual identities emerge in this peculiar short ( part of it reminded me of the Hollywood film Triangle), you feel yourself slipping down the proverbial rabbit hole a little more and more.
I liked this. It was stronger, bolder and tidier.
https://youtu.be//4gOnhZbZOKU (Cursed Widow Blues link)
HOW TO START A ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE (2017)
A pregnant woman dies abruptly, but comes back to life….however all is not as it seems.
This simple but hugely visual short, was very well put together.
I admit I began my viewing expecting the usual Zombie style film, but this is different and definitely set itself aside from the pack.
The cast were believable, the story pretty clean cut and the minimal effects worked perfectly.
There was no overdone guttural growling or huge flesh ripping scenes, just an amazing use of blood and quality acting.
A section of the score featured an incessant beeping, that just adds to the tension as it builds, and helps drive the story along perfectly. We also hear featured music of Kevin Macleod and the final song was beautifully selected to echo us back into reality (it had the same heavenly sorrow as scenes in Hotel Rwanda or the ending to The Mist).
Overall this was my favourite of the shorts I viewed and I was immersed so easily in it.
http://youtu.be//SnJob5gW9BO (How to Start a Zombie Apocalypse link)