Dancing Shadows Review: Running from what you can’t run away from
A woman watches her own funeral. She stands amongst her friends that pay respects on her casket. She watches in sorrow in a world that is twisted and alien and will eventually become hostile when death himself invites her to take her final rest. But the woman can’t seem to face it and decides to make a literal run for her life. Down the twisted corridors and the dark voids, death is always over her shoulder, never far behind.
Dancing Shadows, a short film by Youssef Gouda, is a satisfyingly cinematic exploration of the fear of yet ultimate acceptance of death. Beginning with allusions to expressionist classics like The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari and The Phantom Carriage, Gouda slowly reveals a greater kinship with the works of Canadian gothic director Guy Maddin. Despite these influences, Gouda’s sustained mood piece comes across as something personal and unique to its director’s vision. Beyond the dark and cerebral settings, Dancing Shadows also boasts strong performances. These are stark, stylized and in keeping with Gouda’s silent film palette yet never grotesque or overdone.