Trigger Warning: Sexual assault.
With Halloween just around the corner, it was exciting to have a workshop with Kate Dolan, a successful writer and film-maker in the horror genre.
After graduating with an Honours Degree from IADT with her drama; Breath, Kate wanted to follow her gut to pursue her passion, inspired by the greats such as Steven King and John Carpenter. After attending Berlinale Talents, an International film festival in Berlin, she found her fuel to pursue and continue filmmaking.
Of course, when writing horror, you need to decide whether it’s supernatural or a slasher flick; is it a ghost or monster? But, more importantly, the story needs to scare you, the writer. With horror, you can explore serious themes, but in a fun way with thrills and scares. The audience can be unaware of consuming a serious message.
Kate explores this in her short-film Cat Girls. It covers the unsettling plot of a man pursuing two women; after calling them over and asking directions, they notice he’s masturbating in his car, then he laughs and drives off. These aren’t ordinary women however, they are shapeshifting beasts that follow the man home and seek revenge.
This is an ingenious response to sexual harassment, creatively having fun while also highlighting a serious issue. Cat Girls is all too real, as Kate Dolan tells us a related incident that happened to her friend who received an inappropriate sexual advance.
The scariest part is that an evil person is not a caricature twirling his moustache; they can be your trusted next-door neighbour or long-time friend. It can be hard to make sense of anyone who can do such terrible things.
Horror can highlight true banality evil, as while the slasher elements of Cat Girls were entertaining, the themes of sexual harassment were far more frightening because of how current an issue it is.
Using clever camera angles, music and silence in the right places, it taps into true fear, building to a desiring payoff.
After gaining a new appreciation for horror and meeting an inspiring filmmaker: Kate Dolan, the genre seems to be in good hands.