«Scarlet» by Govind Chandran

«Scarlet» by Govind Chandran

Director Govind Chandran, whom we had already been able to discover and appreciate thanks to At the end of the road, returns to the screens of the Rome Prisma Film Awards with a film that transcends genre definitions and uses the narrative structure of a gothic story to speak about the present with the short film “Scarlet”.

Set in Victorian England, the protagonist is the vampire Scarlet (Kelsey Cooke) who is held captive by a dogmatic vampire hunter, played by Niall Murphy, who attempts to ‘purify’ the unclean creature.

It is immediately evident how Scarlet’s feminine nature prevails over her lethal vampire nature as she rivals the man who wants to punish her for who she is. A strong political vein flows through this suggestive costume film that draws from a distinct tradition.

As “Scarlet” came from a conversation between director Govind Chandran and star Kelsey Cooke about sexual harassment towards women, the two are co-writers of the script.

There are references to works such as Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but above all, it echoes the dark, magnetic power of unforgettable female characters that the Gothic tradition has embedded in the two authors imagination, from Jane Eyre to Eleanor Vance. 

Chandran and Cooke bring a fresh perspective to the genre, exploring themes of female power, LGBTQ love, and the allure of fantasy and horror.

Visually, “SCARLET” is a feast for the eyes, with lighting and color grading influenced by the works of Caravaggio for its sinister, richly contrasting use of light and opulent image-making. 

The attention to detail extends to the meticulously crafted costumes, designed specifically for the film despite budget constraints.

“SCARLET” is a testament to Govind Chandran’s vision as a director and storyteller. Through a captivating narrative and exquisite visuals, the film explores profound themes of desire, prejudice, and redemption, making the line between monster and humanity blur, and the power of acceptance and identity take center stage.