I must admit – despite the cheesy, Poundshop-looking quality of the creepy mask that’s heavily featured in Sloven, it ticks all the right boxes to genuinely freak me out – not least because of its wide, dagger-toothed smile and bulging eyes.
I can’t begrudge a short horror filmmaker the chance to create a franchised villain, and The Moonlight Man sounds exactly like the kind of ghoul that’s always existed, lurking in car parks, looking all creepy, waiting for the chance for his inevitable pounce.
You can definitely see the jump in technical quality and Danny Donahue‘s direction from the first to its sequel, (which is always a fun type of progress to follow), but these are both too short and too single-note to have any lasting impression.
The creature’s striking design, cutting a spine-chilling, spindly silhouette in its thumbnail, is marred upon reveal, looking less Babadook and more hobo Invisible Man. Perhaps it’s a budget thing or a not-wanting-to-be-sued thing. That said, I would, however, be happy to stick both of these on a short horror playlist for a Hallowe’en party.
Haunting past the point of deeply unsettling, this 7-minute short by Mat Johns left me reeling with goosebumps a good two weeks and counting after viewing.
A backpacker (with a distractingly ropey American accent, the film’s only flaw) narrates a letter to his mother, his higher-pitched, soft-spoken voice concealing the horrors about to be shown on screen. It’s a good little chiller; simple but insidious. Anyone who has doubts trusting new people should probably stay away from this film. I actually don’t know if I can bear to watch it again.
I saw this terribly drunk but was still able to formulate a coherent WhatsApp essay on why it disappointed me. Sold to me via the still-rather-excellent Short of the Week as a little film fighting the anti-LGBT power, this Russian short by Blake Mawson might be lost on my geographical demographic.
When I see any work emerging from a country that’s known for treating certain subsets of its population extremely poorly, it’s a lens through which I view said work. This story – of a young gay guy Pyotr who is lured and tormented by homophobic, nationalistic dickbags, but who is also hiding an intriguing body-horror secret – got my attention. But, after showing Pyotr to be a literally soulless demon who gruesomely eviscerates his captors, I’m not sure what audience this film was made for.
Pyotr’s captors are reprehensible, psychotic, enraging and disgusting, and have bile-inducing dress sense, so it’s fun to see Pyotr turn the tables on them. It’s revenge porn at its finest with a welcome progressive message (especially in that country). But there’s s feeling I can’t shake that it’s accidentally cosying up to the harmful propaganda that LGBT people are godless threats to society – regardless of some ‘you’re the monster!’-type one-liners our main character delivers.
That said, this is still an important film that Russia needs, and there is some impressive practical effects on display. I’d see more of this guy’s work.
Damn. Nail-biting from start to finish, this minimalist short by Tim Egan runs high off a tense performance from the sole person on screen, Laura Jane Turner. The latter plays an unnamed young girl who is stuck on a concrete curve above an unseen (but not unheard) pit of indeterminable horror. But, given her painful-looking position – on her back, one leg bent back on itself, blood-crusted hands desperately but carefully trying to slide herself to safety, it’s pretty clear that she’s better off away from whatever’s down there.
Some might read this as a slow-burn, but I didn’t feel that there was a minute wasted. On my ‘highly recommended’ list.
This is a cute 8 minutes, but not much else. Shorts are often a gamble, and you might feel tempted by the little palm tree icons denoting a festival selection of some sort, but are too small to read. Much of this film’s budget was likely spent on its (very convincing) 1950s production design, but apart from some weak underlying tension that ends up deflated for naught, this would be better-read as a very funny, well-acted, nicely-shot tale of a precocious brat having a chat with the neighbourhood postman. A shame, too, as the American Dream setting would have made the perfect backdrop for some truly gruesome (or just creepy gruesome-less) juxtaposition.
Unsettling in a deep way and with stomach-churning doses of literal body horror, this Aussie short by Matt Richards ticks all the right boxes from the start: ominous, gravelly voiceover, bleak prison setting, and unforgettable gore.
Given the rising tide of self-serving conservative oligarchy-style governments, it’s hard not to read into shorts like this as a warning of how public services – like the prison system – could turn out if allowed to run unchecked and unregulated. Bolstered by good acting from the two central leads and crisp technical production, it’s probably a good short to scare the shit out of wayward kids if that’s your thing.
Another little creepy but cute (but mostly creepy) short, Teeth has a surprising star as its narrator: Richard E. Grant.
Writers-directors Tom Brown and Daniel Gray‘s Shudder-homed short is a charming, oddball slice of strangeness that falls into the category of ‘I don’t know where this was going and I still don’t’.
It animation is pleasant enough to look at, but the overall work didn’t leave any kind of lasting impression on me. It did, however, remind me that I need to get that weirdly-nervy tooth looked at.
Ah, Robert Morgan. Ever since your magically creepy tale The Cat with Hands, I’ve made it a point to keep an eye out for your stuff. And the BAFTA-winning The Separation, more ‘wtf’ than ‘wtfairytale’, is no exception to that rule, as we watch events unfold after a pair of conjoined twins are freed from each other.
By turns both gruesome, disturbing, poignant and sweet (in… a way…), I have to wonder what goes on in Morgan’s head. This is more than just fucking weird. It is fucking weird and unforgettable.
I’ve been cheating with shorts lately, and heck if I’m not behind on the actual posts. But I decided to venture into bite-sized horror nuggets because my anxiety has been starting to get out of hand, and I’d been looking at some 4am snoozes (if I slept at all).
Much like I feel my life is as of late, In the Night is a slice of existence that passes the time, but doesn’t quite go anywhere. It could have been a two-man radio short, a student play, or something else that makes up a sentence with a third item for better reading flow.