When a short’s just over one minute long, you know it’s going to incorporate a jump scare – but it’s a hell of a doozy.
One Last Dive readily exploits its deep-dive, underwater setting to maximum, chilling effect, rapidly escalating its sense of dread and tightening the noose with not just the aforementioned jump scare, but what I like to call a “doom scare” – something that, when you see it, makes you realise that everything and everyone is fucked. That it’s over. That there’s no way out. And that the very idea of it even remotely happening to you is enough to give you moviegoer’s anxiety.
This quirkily-titled, immensely-coloured 5-minute short was by each turn disturbing, violent, funny and adorable. A group of snails try to make their way through/out of a stranger’s house, but each meet their demise in increasingly grisly ways. And this isn’t some Tom & Jerry cartoon violence, either -this shit doesn’t hold back. And the most crushing thing is that they each have their own personalities, expressive eyes, and genuine heartbreak and horror each time their group is thinned out (kudos to the voice-actors, by the way, who squeal and gasp their way through the largely wordless terror).
At this point, I should probably mention that these are stop-motion-animated snails, which means that, while this is arguably harder to pull off cinematically, that no crustaceans were actually harmed during the making of this short.
Don’t let the Wallace & Gromit-esque twee character design fool you, though. You’ll feel awful for having laughed at some of the deaths, because, let’s face it, they’re easy victims. I mean, it’s not like we’re watching “Cheetahfore“.
It’s 1st December! CHRISTMAS ALL THE THINGS! And what a serendipity that today’s randomly-selected short happened to be about an office Christmas party at a nuclear plant that goes horribly wrong and turns everyone into highly-intelligent, super-fast, torso-nomming zombies. You haven’t seen a proper holiday gorefest until you’ve seen a dirt-covered holiday reveller proclaiming “Santa is going to save you. Give me your fucking hand.” (And…dressed as St Nick.)
It’s short and sweet, with impressive camerwork, effects and editing, though a bit implausible with the plot – soldiers opening fire on everyone just minutes after a nuclear plant meltdown? Though the maelstrom plus the forest setting makes for some terrifyingly unpredictable viewing. It’s all pure chaos, so there’s no discernible dialogue or defined characters – it’s 4-odd minutes of sheer carnage and there doesn’t really need to be anything else.
There’s also the way it’s shot – purely from one person’s POV, which shifts to zombie halfway through. Gone are the “shit, we have to do it like this” roadblocks that befall your typical found-footage film, because this isn’t FF and can use that valuable time showing us more zombies ripping off legs like they’re drunkenly brawling over a KFC bargain bucket. Zombilicious!
Such an impressive, thoroughly terrifying short, and this is spite of treading old water and that dreaded overdone format itself – found footage. But it does it so incredibly well.
Four teens are on their way home to Stevenage, Hertfordshire, driving down a winding country road. It’s 4am and at they’re being laddish arseholes, obnoxiously eating chocolate bars and filming pratting about on a phone. Coming across a dark, creepy tunnel and a looming, crimson sign saying “No Through Road”, and the pack of unlikeable twats decide to amble through it anyway.
What follows is a series of well-worn series of clichés – a deserted road, a lone, masked figure, the inexplicable way the road keeps bringing them back to the same, scary tunnel, and even the otherworldly screeches on the only tuneable radio station – but it’s paced and edited so superbly that you’re too busy enjoying the literal ride-along.
Honestly, what would you do if you were driving along a dark, eerie rural road and the rules of of physics and cartography just went out the window? And with a finite amount of petrol in the tank, it’s unnerving enough to feel like you’re being stalked by some ghoulish stranger – supernatural or otherwise..
I genuinely thought I’d loathe it once I saw the interminable opening text trying on the old “this was stuff we found at the scene of all these dead kids” (spoiler alert, moviemakers). But the fact that this well-acted, well-directed hair-raiser was an expansion of a Creepypasta lends it a carload of delightfully sinister credence.
Note: The first in a series of four, I’ve yet to track down a director’s name, but that’s because (in true Creepypasta style), it was presented as actual footage of a crime.
The good thing about short films is that, even if they’re mildly disappointing, you didn’t waste a lot of viewing time.
But it’s still a little hollow how anti-climactic Sea Devil was, especially after all the hard work the makers put into building up that cinematic, almost epic dread. It was complexly well-edited, including the sound (how many shorts actually have songs playing over the opening credits – or have opening credits?). The body makeup of the first victim was eerie. The acting more than competent.
And then it just fizzles out. There’s not much that drives the plot forward, except for when the principal characters rescue a multiple amputee from the water (which dregs up the cliché of ‘foreigner heeds warnings of doom in words we can’t understand’). Though it’s odd that, for such an overtly cinematic feel, there’s no music cue to accompany it. It just comes out of nowhere, along with the actions of the other characters. Perhaps the filmmakers relied too much on the audience’s expectations of horror movies to fill in the narrative gaps, but it came off as at odds with the atmosphere the short was working so hard to build up.
I just…I don’t even know why I clicked on this. It’s like the Ladybaby of J-horror. The million-plus viewcount made me think it wasn’t going to be an utter piece of crusted shite, but if you click on the description in the YouTube video (and no, fuck them, I’m not posting it), it’s crammed with nonsensical, popular keywords that have absolutely zero to do with the short itself. Like, they weren’t even trying. “Channel 4”? “VMA”?
Honestly, fuck them, they didn’t even try, I’m not even going to write this with proper editing or punctuation, it’s just going to be a run-on sentence with a shit-ton of commas, the “ghoul” looks like if the Ginosaji from The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient weapon was shat out of a birth canal shared by the fused entity of Robert Smith and Lady Gaga, the entire thing is repetitive, it’s not even shot very interestingly, the sound is piss-poor, it’s not even funny-bad, it’s worse – it’s boring.
Meh. Anything uploaded under the umbrella of ‘Scary Endings’ has a lot to live up to, and this one almost did. Despite the static direction and ropey acting from everyone, the editing and creature design were wonderfully effective (seriously, props to the make-up department).
I’m not sure why the protagonist needed to be a babysitter, as she spends the majority of the 4 minutes in her own apartment building, but she’s potentially being haunted by a boogeyman. There’s a cute moment when she checks her closet (a call to the old legend that says that’s where he’ll be), but it’s ruined by some terrible CGI in an unnecessary wide shot. It could have ended with the hands wrapping around her mouth and the creepy-ass Shinigami/Herman Munster lovechild face coming into view. But hey, judge for yourself:
My word, what an eerie little bit of 3 minutes. You can tell this was made on the cheap, with much of the budget scrapped from the camera equipment, lighting, and wardrobe budgets. But bloody hell if it doesn’t make the sound of a single piano note any creepier than it’s always been. And its simplicity – dark hallways, bare-bones score, no dialogue – is its strength.
I’m happy it doesn’t go for a cheap jump-scare at the end (the predictable ending of 90% of horror shorts). The tracking shots and composition are suitably sinister. It’s well-paced (I’ve seen minute-long shorts that felt dragged out), and its wordless script means it can terrify universally.
And because it does end on a question mark, what we don’t know makes it that much scarier. We’ve no idea what the entity is or what it wants. It could go anywhere from there – the fact that there’s an intruder at all is frightening enough.
[DAMMIT, I FORGOT ONE! now everything is out of order. shit.]
This is another simple short and my god, it leverages the dark side of quirks of social media in a far, far more unsettling way than Unfriended ever did.
Like the aforementioned, A. Friend makes no errors – it’s Facebook-set, and every sound and the layout are familiar and exact. The premise: a woman receives a Facebook request from a stranger, thinks nothing of it and accepts. The profile picture is a single, starkly-contracted iris, and the cover photo is of a violent painting. She sifts through the stranger’s profile and sees a series of Creepshots-style albums of different women – all photos taken secretly, without their consent. She clicks on an album titled with her name and realises that someone’s been following her, photographing her every move.
That’s honestly scary enough on its own, because you don’t have to be a demonic entity to terrify someone in that way. This stuff has actually happened!
This 4-minute short stays sinister until the end, thanks to some superior editing, realistic digital layouts (everything is accurate), and some effective, wordless acting from [can’t seem to find any info on this actress!].
The thing that drew me to this short was its sole star AJ Bowen. I’ve trusted his horror choices since his darkly comic, terrifying ensemble role 2007’s The Signal and his brief but chilling turn in 2009’s The House of the Devil. This 9-minute slice of creepiness is visceral, brutal and claustrophobic, as Bowen plays an unnamed captive desperately trying to seek release from his predicament.
It’s wonderfully lit, with some bloody good SFX. There’s no dialogue, so we rely on Bowen’s haunting, expressive eyes – everything else is murky atmosphere and dark, tight quarters, with some hell of a body horror gore quotient at the end. Don’t perhaps watch before dinner.