Every so often I come across a horror short that scares the living daylights out of me long after I’ve finished watching it. Found via Shortoftheweek’s excellent horror channel, Special Day is the most bastarding slice of terrifying hell since David F. Sandberg’s Lights Out (the original 2013 short).
As with all anthologies, Shudder’s latest offering is very much the mixed bag. Nightmare Cinema doesn’t make the most of its gleefully retro framework – a mysterious projectionist luring patrons in to show them short films of their worst nightmares – which is a crime, especially when said projectionist is played by Mickey Rourke! But it’s OK. This is a movie for Hallowe’en watch parties.
This is the second time I’m writing this entire post out – from memory – because WordPress’s new ‘block editor’ is a piece of fucking garbage and deleted an entire post that was ready to hit ‘publish’. Thanks, WordPress. You are the 99% Napster download of blog editors.
It’s better to watch Netflix’s new offering Wounds as a drama with horror-thriller elements, rather than a straightforward genre offering. Otherwise, you’ll come away feeling cheated by an anti-climactic ending that would have worked great in a single-setting short horror film (which would have been fitting, considering this was based on a novella).
I’ve already forgotten about Alexandra Aja‘s new movie Crawl. That’s not to say it’s bad, but it seems like a strange choice from the director of the likes of Horns and the (genuinely horrifying) remake of The Hills Have Eyes. In fact, it’s a glorious throwback to the solid monster flicks of the late ’90s, a brisk creature feature with flat but likeable characters and zero social commentary. Which, is a bit of a shame given that this set during some very-OTT Floridian floods.
[I’m getting so much better at posting these on time, aren’t I?]
I am reviewing – for want of a more amateur word – Marcin Wrona‘s Polish film Demon outside of the context of his tragic suicide, which was before he could know how truly well this was received. Watching this movie is a bittersweet experience nonetheless, and a fascinating mesh of historical and cultural horror notes that we really need more of in the genre.
For variety (and sanity), I try to include a short film every horror-thon, but it’s mostly to remind myself that the short film format has the potential to produce the strongest scares. They’re mostly single scenes, with no character build-up, are often wordless (good for global reach), and zip by in a few minutes. All of that cooks up some delicious and terrifying unpredictability.
For this October’s short, I chose Reverse, directed by Josh Tanner and co-written with Jade Van Der Lei. In it, an everyman (Joel Stanton) is just trying to get into his car and drive out of a dark underground car park. The setting itself is creepy enough, but an unseen force seems determined to prevent him from leaving…
Another anime! But, because these episodes are so short (<5 minutes with opening and closing credits), I’ll write about a handful of episodes that I picked or that were recommended to me.
Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories uses an interesting form of animation – to mimic the paper puppets of the kamishibai paper street theatre of the 1930s. So the characters barely move, but might move up and down or side to side – but it’s done so well that you don’t really notice. The minisodes are based on either Japanese folklore or modern urban legends, and aren’t averse to the odd jump scare.