365 Days of Horror, Day 1: Treaters [short] [2017]

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Right. As penance for missing a single day on year 4 of my Hallowe’en marathon, I’ve decided to ‘punish’ myself by trying, for the second time, to consume one horror thing per day for the next year. It’s probably too much pressure, but I have a friend who regularly watches this kind of crap with me, so perhaps he’ll spot me or something.

Last night’s entry was the perfect antidote to a Hallowe’en hangover (both literal and emotional): the sumptuously designed Treaters. Boasting production design and props that would rival most feature-length films, this perfectly encapsulates the spooky, colourful, indulgent wickedness of the season (and makes me sad that it’s over for another year).

Set in England, two teens meet up with a third kid they met online, a clown-costumed little shit who promises them the candy heist of their lives. Borrowing some of its tension-setting from bothย Don’t Breatheย and every snacking kid ever, the trio must sneak into the odd setup of a woman’s lounge (where she’s watching some fairly fucked-up animation) to get to her wonderfully impressive sweet shop. Naturally, the gang go nuts – literally like kids in a candy store – but the plot thickens thereafter. No spoilers, but it toes just the right line between gruesome and magically Burton/Selick-y. A trick andย a treat.

Score:ย ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ

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31 Days of Hallowe’en 2017, Day 30: After Hours [short] [2016]

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On second viewing, I liked Kasey LaRose‘s shortย After Hours a bit more. For horror shorts, I’m a bit of a sucker for simple creature design, mostly because it’s cheaper to do (and harder to mess up), but also because it skirts the unsettlingly ambiguous line between demonic and real-life threat.

It also helps if you have a decent score (check), tight camerawork (check), and an actress that is easy to watch and root for (Shiloh Nyce Despain) (check). For a short though, it is incredibly short, yet there are moments that could have been chopped since it stuck with a single, in-the-moment strand of tension that so many early shorts go for.

Score:ย ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ

31 Days of Hallowe’en 2017, Day 29: Mannequin [short] [2017]

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I can’t hate on an student film when it’s clearly many amateurs trying very hard, not least the sole actress on screen who must carry the story by herself. And she (Amy Shaw) does a pretty decent job, though she’s let down by the (i’msorryi’msorryi’msorry) really quite distractingly bad voiceover work that doesn’t sound professional and just doesn’t fit and deflates any of the tension this is trying to build up.

It’s short (obviously) and sweet, and the editing keeps the creepiness afloat. Given its length, it might have benefitted from keeping the action in one room, particularly as it looks like they were going for an old-fashioned ghost story – something you’d tell around a circle at a Hallowe’en sleepover or see reenacted on stage as a short horror play.

Score:ย ๐ŸŽƒHALFAPUMPKIN

31 Days of Hallowe’en 2017, Day 28: Slash in the Box [short] [2017]

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Five days after watching this and I have very little memory of it. That doesn’t mean that this ‘cursed item’ short was bad, just not as memorable as the 30 other things I watched this month.

It’s a one-note affair that could even stand to have 2 minutes trimmed off, since it’s really just a showcase for some genuinely good practical effects, and especially as we know exactly how it’s going to end – just from the title.

Score:ย ๐ŸŽƒHALFAPUMPKIN

31 Days of Hallowe’en 2017, Day 27: Sloven [short] [2015]

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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.

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31 Days of Hallowe’en 2017, Day 26: Juan of the Dead [2011]

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juan-of-the-dead-poster

source: Ain’t it Cool News

Newsflash, Rotten Tomatoes users: THIS IS NOT AN HOMAGE TO SHAUN OF THE DEAD. How can anyone have fully watched this zombie movie with an incredibly overt political message and think it’s not inspired by the Romero classic?

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31 Days of Hallowe’en Day 2015, Day 25: Clown [2014]

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Clown 2014 eli roth jon watts

source: Cinemablend

I trusted you, Jon Watts, director of the brilliantly witty, knowing, colourful Spiderman: Homecoming. But your movie Clown, buried by studios, made me look like a fool to all of whom I recommended this after only having seen the first 45 minutes.

Andย whatย a 45 minutes. The first few shots, blunt cuts of birthday party debris overlaid with deafening children’s screams that turn out to be screams of excitement/joy, made it clear, at the time, that I’d be in for some grim fun. The almost immediate body-horror setup, in which realtor Kent (an affable, sympathetic Andy Powers, who I’ve never seen before but would watch more of him), dons a found, dusty old clown costume to fill in at his son’s birthday party and subsequently can’t remove – and the gruesomely funny methods he tries to rid himself of it, including a wonderfully deadpan doctor’s visit.

But he can’t. It’s become a second skin. Even Peter Stormare‘s welcome supporting role can’t fix things. Kent panics, and accidentally, awkwardly reverse-snaps a family friend’s arm in front of his consistently-disapproving father-in-law.

Then it gets horribly uncomfortable.

[SPOILERS HENCEFORTH]

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31 Days of Hallowe’en 2017, Day 24: The Jigsaw [short] [2017]

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Good sound is important; impeccable sound is impressive. This fantastic little short, full of old-fashioned scares and with the classic ‘cursed purchase’ trope that never gets old, ranks high among the best of the horror shorts.

Not to be confused with the Saw villain of the same name, The Jigsaw is genuinely about an ostensibly cursed jigsaw puzzle and its new owner, a strange hermit who lives in a wonderfully set-decorated pit of forgotten, vintage…everything.

It’s pretty to look at (I’m still marvelling about the prop details), crisp to hear, and the two leads (hermit and the shop owner) are pleasant to watch. Well-paced and shot with a campfire-tale sheen, its final shot will have you spooked for months to come.

Rating:ย ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ

31 Days of Hallowe’en 2017, Day 23: The Moonlight Man [2016] and The Moonlight Man 2 [2017]

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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.

Score:ย ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ

31 Days of Hallowe’en 2017, Day 22: Run [short] [2017]

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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.

Score:ย ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ