31 Days of Hallowe’en, Day 31: The Stomach (2014)


It’s it! I did it! The final film of this year’s marathon!

[I’ve a feeling you’ll likely see more horror posts from me before next year]

I cheated again this year – another short! And what a short. Writer-director Ben Steiner‘s The Stomach is equal parts bleak family fable, gritty neo-noir and grisly body horror. Packing two hours’ worth of backstories and interpersonal relationships into just 15 minutes, it’s no surprise that a feature-length is in the works – yet it never feels rushed or overcrowded.

the stomach 2014 horror short

Unlike Frank (Simon Meacock)’s stomach. The poor man, a medium who literally goes with his gut to talk to those in the afterlife, is ready to give up his gift. The work has taken its toll – physically and mentally – but his brother Tom (Ben Bishop) begs him to finish the day’s sessions before they agree to get Frank an operation that will replace his stomach. But back comes Mr. Pope (Peter Marinker), a recent client who’s not pleased with his service…

the stomach 2014 short horror

For such a short film, I genuinely cared about what happened to these characters. It’s a bittersweet fraternal story: the brothers have such chemistry and Frank looks so close to death, it’s hard not to feel for them both. It’s also a tension twofer, between the rough and grimy threat of Mr. Pope and the unpredictable forces of the ghostly beyond. Which, given that the tension starts straightaway, it’s probably a relief that it only lasts a quarter of an hour.


And that’s it for this year’s horror-a-thon. See you next year!


365 Days of Horror, Day 21: Click (2011)



Well thanks a fucking bunch, Click. Not since Lights Out has a short film renewed my childhood fear of the dark.

There is neither gore nor jump scares here. William Prince’s 15-minute short plays out a simple story in real time: a group of mouthy little kids arse about on the grounds of an abandoned building, and decide to piss about with the light switch (a bloody unnerving character all on its own – how can you make mould and smudges look so sinister??).


Things take the usual disquieting turn, but it’s the effective direction, atmospheric shots and competent acting that elevate this short far beyond the mild-but-decent creepiness it could have settled for. I genuinely want to get up to turn the light back on now. So thanks. Thanks a lot, Prince. Go sit in a corner with David F. Samberg. A dark corner. With all the lights out.

31 Days of Hallowe’en, Day 31: Terrifier (short) (2011)


terrifier 2011

And so comes the end of my third annual October horror-a-thon. I still hate this name, but it’s stuck. I’ve skirted the rules somewhat this year – in 2013, I watched a movie every night and wrote it up right afterwards; I’d also write something on my tumblr every day. In 2014, I wasn’t working so I had all the free time in the world. This time, I’ve been living in London these past 7 or so months and I forget that those people really like to drink.

And yesterday, I was back in my other home of Salem (fuck yeah Haunted Happenings! – photos to come later), so I cheated by watching a horror short – the aptly-named Terrifier.

terrifier 2011

But it’s by no means a less effective watch. A lot’s packed into these tense 19 or so minutes, and its simplicity is its strength: Clowns and and inexplicable, logic-defying chasing – specifically the classic horror trope in which, no matter how fast you run, the slower-moving killer is always somehow one step ahead of you (It Follows used this as its principal scare).

terrifier 2011

It’s by turns gory, shocking, and fucking bizarre. And scary. The beauty of short films like this is that, much like non-US horror, there’s the potential to not just push the envelope, but tear it a new one; there are almost no rules about what can and can’t be shown on screen, and the limited running time means that the plot could go anywhere. There’s no time to actually develop characters so that we can have it telegraphed to us which ones will live based on actor name recognition and final girl/victim tropes.

Director Damien Leone is a quite the one-man show, crafting the special effects as well as doing the editing and sound. You can tell he’s got a lifelong love of horror; with its off-kilter, sparse score and burnt-film overlay, Terrifier ends up looking much like a lost snuff film of the ’80s. It’s seeing new life as a feature-length piece, currently filming but slated for release this year, but its clown killer Art (Mike Gianelli in this; David Howard Thornton in the remake) was also the featured psycho in Leone’s 2013 anthology All Hallow’s Eve.

I ended up choosing this as it was a horror short set on Hallowe’en night (thanks, Google!). Thankfully my October 31st wasn’t as eventful as this. Equally thankfully, I’m not a coulrophobic.