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From The Boston Underground Film Festival: ‘The Nightsiren’ is a Tale of Inclusion, Community, and Womanhood

Dir. Tereza Nvotova – 3 Stars

A young girl holds a snake in a still from "Nightsiren."
A young girl holds a snake in a still from "Nightsiren." By Courtesy of Boston Underground Film Festival
By Xander D. Patton, Crimson Staff Writer

Screened last week on March 22, “The Nightsiren” glued audiences to their seats with shock at the Boston Underground Film Festival. “The Nightsiren” details the return of a young woman, Charlotte (Natalia Germani), to the local village where she grew up to uncover the truth of what happened to her family after she fled as a young girl. Through a strong sense of visual atmosphere, this film takes a modern stance on its themes of community and womanhood in a way that almost feels like a storybook.

Czechian film director Tereza Nvotova opens this film with an unsettling plain black screen accompanied by intense banging and screaming. Immediately after, this film breaks the normalities of structure and opens with a traumatic climax that haunts the main character of this story throughout the rest of the film. In this scene, Charlotte flees both her home and her mother who is moments away from beating her to a nearby cliff overlooking the forest surrounding their village. However, unbeknownst to her she is followed by her younger sister who, upon noticing, she accidentally pushes off the cliff to her impending death.

Following this harshly intense open, beautiful shots of nature — such as flower sown fields full of frolicking sheep — fill the screen as powerful contrasting images. This juxtaposition indicates not only a change in time, as the film is now set in the present day, but a change in tone with events less grim than the film opened with. However, this hope is immediately squashed, as viewers are introduced to a now-adult-version of Charlotte who has returned to her village only to find nothing working in her favor. The experience of returning to what was once her home for the promise of an inheritance that seems to be nowhere in sight while nobody around is willing to see her as more than a mere outsider, leaves Charlotte to quickly become very isolated. Within this isolation, dark candle-lit visuals contrast the hopeful greenery of before, showing that there is still a very prominent negative energy that permeates the atmosphere of this village.

After Charlotte’s individual struggles have been established, viewers are introduced to other characters through the second chapter; the film is divided in seven chapters total. Here, the thematic messaging of the movie begins to become more clear as viewers quickly learn to despise any and all men that comprise the village because they can be characterized as greedy, reckless, and foolish. This theme of womanhood and the bond it creates is only strengthened as Charlotte’s relationship with the only person in the village who has shown her kindness thus far — Mira (Eva Mores) — grows. Eventually, due to a series of strange occurrences, the village becomes swept into a panic and they point their fingers first at what is foreign to them: the recent arrival, Charlotte. In a community that ultimately does nothing but create excuses for the horrible actions of greedy men, Charlotte continues to find love and support from her struggles only from Mira.

Ultimately, this film takes a strong stance — aided by experimental and beautiful nature heavy visuals — in support of the bond that womanhood creates for individuals in the face of hardship. It finds visual strength from the fact that the imagery that it shows is continuously very distinct, creating images (whether of beauty or of fear and darkness) that will stick in viewers minds well after the movie. It turns gender norms on their head as classic representations of evil, child stealing witches that are typically represented as women are instead framed as brave saviors. And it proves that even when all other representations of community fail, the shared struggle of those with shared identity can help to provide a sense of belonging.

—Staff writer Xander D. Patton can be reached at

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