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By Ethan Padgett | October 8, 2023

Writer-director Steve Manford’s Berman incorporates interesting concepts into the slasher genre, which is well known for its many icons, such as Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger. The story follows Rita (Rita Faria) as she and her friend go to a goth nightclub. There, she notices the place is off-kilter and disturbing, partially because she keeps hearing a weird humming noise. She sees a horned masked man repeatedly popping up on the screen projections on the wall. Partygoers let Rita know the man in the projections is Berman.

As Rita keeps exploring, the buzzing of a screwdriver is heard. She is horrified to witness a person wearing roller skates being tortured by a mysterious hooded figure with a screwdriver. When a goon in a bug-eyed mask and medical gloves notices her, Rita bolts away. Now at home, she turns on the TV and finds Berman on screen, ready to kill her. Suddenly, the goon with gloves lurks behind Rita as she cautiously checks her window. No room is safe. Will Rita be able to defend herself?

“…the goon with gloves lurks behind Rita…”

Berman may be loosely plotted, but it has quirky ideas and an eerie atmosphere. The cinematography is moody, with deep shadows like a David Fincher film. The use of masks to convey disfigured faces is a strong creative choice. The faces of the hooded slashers and the victim have a distorted Tim Burton look with bug eyes and long noses. But the standout is Faria. Her facial expressions carry the emotional weight, as there is limited dialogue. Manford is smart to give the actor many close-ups, which helps distract from the lack of character development. Though, to be fair, this runs less than 10 minutes long.

Unfortunately, our antagonists lack the intrigue of other horror villains. And Rita is far from the resilient protagonist typically seen in slashers. Despite its flaws, Berman is worth a look to take in the weird atmosphere and will not gross out newcomers to horror.

Berman (2023)

Directed and Written: Steve Manford

Starring: Rita Faria, Zuzanna Dluzniewska, Jan Debski, Chris Farish, Olatz Niembro Vivanco, etc.

Movie score: 5/10

Berman Image

"…moody…like a David Fincher film."

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