“Hopefully this project will provide opportunities for our directors and to dispel the myth that women only make one kind of horror or that they aren’t interested in the genre.”

Crushed Director Megan Riakos will premiere Dark Whispers Volume 1 at Monster Fest State screenings; showcasing the works of eleven female Directors from six states across Australia.

“The best thing about a horror anthology is that it provides a taste of a diverse slate of films and the visions of the directors behind them,” said Riakos. “In the case of ‘Dark Whispers,’ it is especially important as it is introducing a new wave of female horror filmmakers to audiences who up till this point have only been able to sample the work of just a few Aussie women in long form horror.

Grief and loss, reflected in a myriad of forms, emerged as strong yet by no means universal themes therein. Birthday Girl by Angie Black, Kaitlin Tinker’s The Man Who Caught a Mermaid and Marion Pilowsky’s The Ride stood as particular highlights, with Riakos’ own strand tying the diverse narratives together too a stand out.

“Longing, grief, regret and navigating the challenges in life were common themes in the Anthology,” said Riakos. “I was interested in the idea that we all carry these lessons with us and pass them onto the next generation who rejects it at their peril.”

“This was the main inspiration for the wraparound segment – Clara (Andrea Demetriades) inherits a haunted book which contains dark whispers emanating from each of the segments. The more she tries to ignore what is inside that book, the more it demands to be read.”

Riakos has highlighted how women’s horror and the female gaze, as reflected in Dark Whispers, can be prone to take a more psychological bent; too tending to subvert the genre tropes to which we’ve become accustomed.

“When you explore character, you take a more psychological approach to the genre,” said Riakos. “An example of this is Katrina Irawati Graham’s Indonesian ghost story segment ‘White Song’ which features the famous Kuntil Anak spirit. Normally the Kuntil Anak is presented as an evil entity and the chief antagonist in a story, but in ‘White Song’ she is the protagonist and the film explores the motivations behind this malicious spirit.”

“Another example would be Kaitlin Tinker’s ‘The Man Who Caught A Mermaid’ which gives us a peek into the psyche of a man as he is finally united with the object of his obsession.”

Having screened at Monster Fest Melbourne, Sydney will soon get their first chance to catch Dark Whispers Volume 1.

“I have really enjoyed working on ‘Dark Whispers Volume 1’ both creatively and because of the people I got to work with, and am very keen to make a volume 2,” concluded Riakos. “The main decision will be around whether we continue with the horror genre or whether we steer towards Science Fiction, another genre that would be a whole lot of fun to explore!”

‘Dark Whispers Volume 1,’ which screened as part of CinefestOz, screens at Monster Fest Sydney on Sunday November 3

on FalkenScreen