After androgynous high school student Cassie (Bianca Sanchez) is bullied by a quartet of mean-girl classmates in a campus bathroom, her mother (Melissa Connell) calls upon satanic forces to seek revenge in writer/director Aaron Immediato’s Bathroom Troll. This short film pays homage to Brian De Palma’s 1976 screen version of Stephen King’s Carrie while giving a fresh, current take on high-school–outsider revenge horror.
Sanchez is outstanding as a young woman whose looks confuse and infuriate some of her classmates. Kelly Holstrom, Lauren Lee, Kara McGee, and Cassidy Sanders also give solid turns as they play four self-obsessed girls who complain about what they see as their own physical shortcomings while knocking their other friend’s opinions. When these girls discover Cassie silently hiding in a bathroom stall, they question her gender, physically and verbally abusing her.
As meek and frightened as Cassie is — and Sanchez’s marvelous facial expressions convey this superbly — her mother is quite the opposite. She is headstrong and forceful in making Cassie accompany her to a secluded spot to perform a diabolical ritual. Enter the titular demon (Hannah Gold), who, thanks to very cool makeup by Becca Smith and a unique costume design, looks like it could have been doing double duty as a glam death metal musician.
The revenge troll goes after Cassie’s tormentors one by one, but our protagonist isn’t keen on her mother’s deadly idea. As Cassie finds the courage and strength to stand up for herself, the stakes are raised for all involved.
Immediato paces Bathroom Troll marvelously, infusing the short with occasional humorous moments but keeping the story clearly in horror territory. His outsider protagonist is a girl whose looks make her an easy target for loudmouthed, rude people, and Cassie comes off as a relatable character with a huge heart.
Bathroom Troll screened at Fantastic Fest, which ran in Austin, Texas, from September 19–26.(3.8 / 5)