Diversity is a beautiful thing. It’s an essential thing if we are to create better art. And I’m so grateful there is a growing space for women in the horror industry. Without those spaces, we wouldn’t have interesting and new stories like Nikyatu Jusu’s Suicide By Sunlight.
Suicide By Sunlight plays with similar tropes, but brings new light (ha ha) to these traditional tales. The film was made in collaboration with THROUGH HER LENS: The Tribeca Chanel Women’s Filmmaker Program, which provides funding and support up-and-coming women directors in the US. The film was made with an entirely woman camera department, and quite honestly, it benefits the short.
Valentina (Natalie Paul) is a nurse – she’s also a vampire. But being a black woman, her melanin protects her from the sunlight. But her condition keeps her separated from her daughters, whom she’s estranged from. She’s desperate to see, but it kept at a distance by the girls’ father.
She tries to suppress her bloodlust, but at a club one night, she ends up picking more than one target to feast on. But not all of her instincts are primal. She decides to ‘help’ one of young, sick patients who is nearly the end of his life.
Afterwards, she visits her daughters while their father is out. She surprises them and their new mother figure. Valentina is a monster (in a traditional sense), but Paul plays her with such sensitivity and vulnerability. Even within 15 minutes, you begin to care deeply about her character.
Jusu has said that her influences are Octavia Butler and West African mythology. These rich influences seep through her story. It’s a story about a vampire, but it’s also a story about marginalisation. Suicide By Sunlight is a prime example of a short film that will leave you wanting more: wanting more story, more background, more of the world, more of the characters. Not knowing what happens next is almost painful, but in a way only a good short film can satisfy.