The Old Woman Who Hid Her Fear Under The Stairs


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Old Woman Who Hid Her Fear Under The Stairs
"Sara Kestelman takes a simply drawn character and gives her depth and complexity."

Anxiety can be a difficult thing to deal with at any age, but it's particularly problematic in later life, when one can feel one's body getting weaker, when that sense of physical vulnerability can easily become constant. The heroine of this film also has to deal with the presence of a hooded figure who seems to be watching the house, perhaps a symbol of the threat represented by malicious young people that's constantly talked about on the news. At a rational level she feels she can control the situation, but emotionally it's not so simple. So she goes on the internet to look for a solution.

Of course, where there are enough people wanting to buy, there'll be somebody with something to sell. Whether or not it works is another matter, but she's desperate, so she reaches for her wallet and takes the chance. The advice, surprisingly, seems to work. She is able to pluck out her fear, shut it in a biscuit tin and hide it away under the stairs. A period of great joy begins - of dressing up and dancing around, drinking and making the most of every aspect of life. But the figure outside hasn't gone away. When, late at night, the back door begins to rattle, somebody persistently trying the handle, she can hear her fear down there in the stair cupboard, desperately trying to get out.

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Sara Kestelman takes a simply drawn character and gives her depth and complexity. Beyond the fear and its absence lies another challenge. Is there a time for returning to re-examine the things that have made us weak? Doing so obviously entails risk. But even when we're older, there is room to grow, and to discover new things about ourselves.

More of a character study than anything else, Faye Jackson's short, which screened at this year's Fantasia, keeps the story simple and focuses on its heroine's inner journey. Strong set design and props work contributes to building a strong sense of who the woman is and even how her fear developed. The fear itself is personified to such an extent that at times one fears for it. A slice of life with a fantasy twist and rare sympathy for a type of character generally ignored by the genre, this is an astute little film which makes its point well.

Reviewed on: 02 Aug 2018
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The Old Woman Who Hid Her Fear Under The Stairs packshot
An old woman finds a way to remove her fear, but can the good times last?

Director: Faye Jackson

Writer: Faye Jackson

Starring: Sara Kestelman, Alice Offley

Year: 2016

Runtime: 16 minutes

Country: UK


Fantasia 2018

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