Frightfest Glasgow: Mother Superior (2023)

Director: Marie Alice Wolfszahn

Running Time: 71 Minutes

Starring: Isabella Händler, Inga Maux, Jochen Nickel, Tim Werths

Writer/director Marie Alice Wolfszahn sets the scene for her feature debut, opening with the camera gliding over newspaper clippings, tapes, and various objects while a witness statement plays. As police officers question Sigrun (Isabella Händler) about a burnt body with no exact cause of death, the interviewed woman begins recounting the mysterious circumstances.

Arriving at Rosenkreuz Manor as a nurse, Sigrun begins her new position to look after the elderly Baroness Heidenreich (Inge Maux). What the new arrival hides are her true intentions to unearth her biological family's history, believing the aging Baroness holds the secrets while overlooking the dangerous paths such curiosity will lead to.

After encountering so many dead ends in her quest, potentially finding the answers instils newfound hope into Sigrun. Her past optimism contrasts nicely with the present interview footage, showing a seemingly different person missing that hope, with Händler effectively conveying how the journey changes the character.

Her hopes lie with The Baroness, a notoriously odd woman whose secluded life requires certain principles to be followed. Privacy is highly valued on the estate, to the point her groundskeeper is tasked with fetching anything needed from outside the grounds. While Sigrun arrived with her own agenda, one feels that The Baroness is playing her own game throughout, as effectively conveyed by Maux.

As the dark history makes itself known, Sigrun is told there may be something more meaningful for her at the manor. The closer answers seem for the nurse, the further she falls into the grip of dark forces she cannot comprehend. The combination of creepy imagery and an unsettling score sets a nightmarish mood throughout, while interludes involving occultists stick in the memory. What's unfortunate is how the circumstances don't come together, as the screenplay doesn't make the horrors born from real-life and the supernatural effectively unite. A shame, as the potential lies within these interesting ideas.

Mother Superior made its UK Premiere at Frightfest Glasgow