SF Indie Fest 2013
By Don Simpson | February 9, 2013
Director: Lindsay Denniberg
Writers: Lindsay Denniberg, Chris Shields
Starring: Priscilla McEver, Chris Shields, Crispin Rosenkranz, Erica Gressman, Brianne Milder, Monica Panzarino, Casey Puccini, Emilie Crewe, Hope Esser, Yael Gabi, Danny Gallegos
According to Jewish mythology, Lilith once lived in the Garden of Eden with Adam. Lilith was created from the same earth as Adam, essentially making her Adam’s equal (unlike Eve who was created from Adam’s rib). Conflicting stories get things a bit muddled after that point… The prologue to writer-director Lindsay Denniberg’s Video Diary of a Lost Girl shows Lilith and Adam mating, but then Lilith leaves Adam after she refuses to become subservient to him. Lilith vanishes from the Garden of Eden and never returns, opting to have sex with thousands of demons instead.
In Denniberg’s surreal world, Lilin are the demonic offspring of Lilith. In appearance, they closely resemble human females. They are immortal as long as they have sex once a month; otherwise they will die from loss of blood during a monstrous menstruation period. Oh, and their sex is so killer that their mates die immediately.
Louise (Priscilla McEver) is a modern day Lilin, albeit one with a heightened moral compass. You see, Louise fell in love with her first mate back in the 1920s and the memory of killing him still haunts her to this day. Regardless, it is not too difficult for Louise to legitimize the murder of sexual predators and rapists (especially when it means saving her own life); though things do get complicated for Louise once she meets Charlie (Chris Shields), the modern reincarnation of her dead lover. Louise does not want to be the succubus who sucks the life out of Charlie once again, but the end of her monthly cycle is rapidly approaching…
Video Diary of a Lost Girl is a highly imaginative mash-up of classic horror films, midnight cult classics, German expressionism and 1920s cinema (the title itself is a direct reference to Georg Wilhelm Pabst’s Diary of a Lost Girl , starring Louise Brooks). Filtered through the hyper-stylistized degradation of a VHS deck with bad tape heads, certain colors are totally blown out and over-saturated, while other tones barely register. This is one crazy, visual head-trip of a film that plays as the feminist counterpart to the early works of Tim Burton, John Waters and David Cronenberg.
While I love the visual aspects (and soundtrack!) of Denniberg’s film, it is the way that Video Diary of a Lost Girl deals with feminist issues that really stands out to me. This is an incredibly unique perspective on the horrors of the female menstrual cycle and gender dynamics. Giving my bloody valentine a whole new meaning, the men of Video Diary of a Lost Girl are sacrificed to avoid a deadly menstruation. The Lilin are the predators of predatory males, punishing them with killer sex for their misogynistic behavior. Video Diary of a Lost Girl therefore turns the tables on horror films, which have traditionally featured male aggressors and helpless female victims. Sure the vintage posters and t-shirts that monopolize Denniberg’s production design are intended as a loving homage, but they also allow Denniberg to stick a fork in the stereotypical male gaze of those very same films. Like Lilith, the women of Video Diary of a Lost Girl do not want to be subservient to males, they want to be considered equals.
Video Diary of a Lost Girl also curiously contemplates the possibility of enjoying a relationship without sex — in other words, being “just friends” — or at least allowing sex to be on the woman’s terms rather than the man’s. Or, maybe just wait until both mates know that they are in love — to quote Count Osdorff’s final words from Diary of a Lost Girl, “a little more love and no one would be lost in this world.”