#MUFFApproved: Berkshire County
Berkshire County (2014)
dir. Audrey Cummings
Starring: Alysa King
I first saw Berkshire County when I worked at the Blood in the Snow Film Festival last year. Not only is it a seriously tense ride from beginning to end, one thing that made it especially exciting was how much weight there is on its female characters. After it was over I was giggling like a teeny-tiny schoolgirl who just watched an hour and twenty minutes of gory, insane and arguably-feminist badassery, and wanted to run over to the cast and ask if I can hangout with them because they're all so cool.
Berkshire County follows the seventeen-year-old Kylie (Alysa King) who is desperate to get away from her problems for a night after Marcus, the archetypal high-school jerk, humiliated her at a party. She takes a babysitting job on Halloween night in Berkshire, a quiet (which is an understatement) county near her, and within almost no time at all, she finds herself terrorized by home-invaders wearing creepy pig masks. Refusing to be a victim in her situation, Kylie uses her wit and relentless desire to survive and protect the children she's caring for, no matter how bleak her circumstance becomes.
Although horror films almost always have a 'final girl' as the hero, what is exciting about Berkshire County is how it doesn't stop at just one strong-willed babysitter. Women characters are integral to the plot of this movie, and can be placed all over the scale of morality. Although there is one woman who can be identified as having some masculinized traits, which could be a point of criticism, I think that the script is kudos-worthy for its diverse depictions of women. The male characters in the movie are almost like afterthoughts, and more of a vehicle in the development of the females' stories; this being the most notable in the ridiculous and hilarious (in a laugh-at-him way) Marcus.
It is also directed by Audrey Cummings, who masterfully creates seriously thick atmosphere throughout the course of the story. Although Berkshire County is stacked with shocks and twists, it is a more subtle film that reminded me of Black Christmas or When a Stranger Calls in that leaves more unsaid and up to the audience's imagination.
So, needless to say, when I saw that Berkshire got a theatrical release at the Carlton Cinema (where Toronto MUFF screens, yay, Carlton!) and another encore viewing at the Revue Cinema in Roncesvalles, my heart swelled with joy.
I implore you, bloody-babes, gorehounds and twisted sisters, go see it ASAP.
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