Bianca Sanchez as Cassie in Aaron Immediato's Bathroom Troll (Photo via IMDb)

Nightmares Film Festival has never shied away from programming horror films with social relevance and Aaron Immediato’s Bathroom Troll is no exception.

Screening as part of their Horror Shorts A block, Bathroom Troll tells the story of Cassie, a high school girl whose gender non-conformity makes her the target of a vicious group of the worst kind of mean girls. Little do they know that Cassie’s mom has a Satanic streak and she’s ready to use her daughter’s anguish to unleash a demon of vengeance on them.

With obvious nods to Stephen King’s classic novel Carrie as well as Brian de Palma’s adaptation, Immediato crafts a fast-paced, slightly tongue-in-cheek revenge story for a modern audience with a skilled cast.

Bianca Sanchez is wonderfully vulnerable as Cassie. Her wide eyes and open, expressive features draw the audience into every conflicting emotion, often all at once.

Melissa Connell’s Mama, meanwhile, is a blazing, over-the-top homage to Piper Laurie’s iconic turn as Margaret White in Carrie. Connell gives over to the mania fully, professing the glory of Satan while pushing Cassie to embrace her rage to call forth and feed the Vengeance Troll (Hannah Gold).

Kelly Holstrom, Lauren Lee, Kara McGee, and Cassidy Sanders embrace the “mean girl” stereotype, calling out their own imperfections and fighting among themselves, only truly uniting when they can focus that rage on someone else.

In a time where we’ve seen multiple “bathroom bills” aimed at the transgender community, where non-binary, gender fluid or non-conforming citizens have been harassed in bathrooms for the way they look, and where entire groups have been demonized simply for being outsiders, Bathroom Trolls raises interesting questions.

My only regret for the film is that there wasn’t time to explore Cassie’s identity more.

Bathroom Trolls will screen in Horror Block A Friday, October 19, 2018 at 6 pm in House 2 at Nightmares Film Festival in the Gateway Film Center in Columbus, Ohio! For a full schedule of events and for ticketing information click here.

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