Etheria is a new series of horror, science fiction, fantasy, action, and thriller episodes from women directors. Shudder shared a series of Etheria shorts earlier this year, so you may have seen those stories. Season one is also available on Amazon.
Having these unconnected tales air as a series instead of cramming them into a portmanteau was a good idea, as while they share a similar thread, they all look and feel so different that having them appear as episodes of a show makes much more sense.
The first story, “Sweet Little Unforgettable Thing,” is all about Maddy, a sweet girl who tries to reinvent herself to win over a new boy she’s met at the roller skate rink. However, that handsome stranger ends up being a killer. Look for Sally Kirkland as Maddy’s grandmother! This was written and directed by Chloe Okuno and originally released in 2014. I wish this story had more time to grow — something that you can say for several episodes — but while it lasts, it’s pretty entertaining.
“Sheila Scorned” is the second episode and it’s written and directed by Mara Tasker. Originally released in 2015, it’s all about Sheila, who screws up a drug deal and gets kidnapped from the club that she dances at. However, the men who take her aren’t ready for just how rough she can be. You can learn more about this short at the official site.
2013’s “Gödel Incomplete” is a romance story that travels through time, uniting Serita Cedric (Elizabeth Debicki, Ayesha from Guardians of the Galaxy 2), a research student working at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, with Kurt Godel, who was considered to be amongst the foremost logicians in the history of man. It was written and directed by Martha Goddard, who lends this segment the most sheen and professionalism of all the segments.
2015’s “Shevenge” was directed by Amber Benson (Tara from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) from a story by Jessica Sherif and Megan Lee Joy, who appear in this episode as two of the three women (Emme Ryan of General Hospital is the other lead) who dream of either destroying or changing their boyfriends and decide to use the occult to become empowered. The humor really works in this segment and gives it a real difference from the other stories.
“Cowboy Kill Club” is written and directed by Gabrielle Lim and Jean Parsons. It’s about three dancers in Bangkok’s underworld who decide to wipe out a sinister cartel of sex traders. It’s almost too basic and short for anything to really get movie and would have benefitted from more time. This film was originally released as a short in 2015.
Writer/director Mary Russell’s “Carved” also came out in 2015 and is perhaps the best shot of any of these stories for translating well into a longer feature. I’d be interested to see what else Russell does in the future, as this is a solid and assured piece all about the spirit of a murderer infiltrating a Vegas roadtrip. For more information on the creator, you can visit her official website.
“El Gigante” has already been airing on Shudder. This 2014 effort by Gigi Saul Guerrero (who directed the “Día de los Muertos” segment in Barbarous Mexico) and Luke Bramley from a script by Shane McKenzie (who worked with the duo on the series La Quinceañera) is about Armando, whose escape to the United States has brought him right back to Mexico, where a cannibal family puts him into a fight to the death against the rudo known as El Gigante in a wrestling match to the death.
Devyn Dalton, who plays Chango, acted and did stunts for the recent Apes films. She was Cornelia in Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Cornelius in War for the Planet of the Apes. This segment was really well-made and honestly could be an entire movie all by itself.
You can learn more about the Luchagore team that made this — as well as grab a comic or t-shirt of the film — at their official site.
In “Zone 2,” originally a 2015 short by director Anna Elizabeth James and writer Lydia Mulvey, is about a mother and her disabled son trying to survive the end of the world. Again, it’s too short, but a nice showcase. James just completed production on a movie called Deadly Illusions that sounds like the kind of giallo by way of Lifetime films we enjoy around here, helped by the fact that it features Dermot Mulroney and Kristin Davis.
Not to be a broken record, but 2014’s “Witches” feels like a great sketch for a much larger project. It’s entertaining, but six minutes aren’t enough to give it what it deserves. Writer Katie Dodson is good in this as Tamsin and director Michelle Steffes has a good eye for putting together this short piece.
The final episode, “Suddenly One Night (De Noche y de Pronto),” gets the longest screen time at around twenty minutes. This 2012 Spanish short was written and directed by Arantxa Echevarría. During the holidays, Maria is visited by a man who claims to be her upstairs neighbor, a man convinced that his apartment is being torn apart by burglars. This has a great 70’s style and would also be a great springboard for a full-length film.
Most anthologies are a mixed bag, but Etheria season 2 offers plenty to enjoy from a plethora of female voices. Any time that I want to see more — and not less — from a story is a victory and that happens throughout this series. These bite-sized tales will whet your appetite for more and hopefully you’ll look up these filmmakers and follow them as their careers only go upward from here.