365 Days of Horror, Day 40: I Feel Fantastic (short) (2009)

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i feel fantastic hey hey hey short

I think there must be something wrong with me, because I didn’t find this creepy in the tiniest bit of slightest. Mannequins, or just doll faces, are a common ick/fright factor, but I guess I’m defective in that regard, because there are two things other than spiders and death that scare me, and I have yet to find anyone who shares these. (No, I’m not telling.)

So a 2-minute short about a mannequin singing a song about how fantastic she feels just isn’t unsettling at all. The ditty, while bleeped out in heavy autotune, is actually quite lilting and sweet, and nothing much of note happens in the video, other than an unexplained fuzzy ’80s VHS zoom in onto a plain patch of grass.

Judge for yourself. I still felt perfectly fantastic after watching it.

365 Days of Horror, Day 34: Passenger (short) (2015)

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passenger short horror 2015

Shot by an aspiring filmmaker on a nothing of a budget, Passenger quickly creates a uncomfortable sense of dread. It’s what I love most about horror shorts – they know they’re there to scare from the get-go. The good ones are about creating mood – and the basest for the genre is, of course, fright.

At under 4 minutes, it’s to Passenger‘s benefit that its concept is simple and, crucially, relatable: a young man is in his car, thinks he sees something (driving =/= a good time to think you’re hallucinating). Add to that your car is a tiny, very personal space, and the idea of an intruder who doesn’t play by the rules of physics, nature and everything is a fairly unsettling scenario.

It’s got some pretty top editing, with some tight close-ups and some clear, crisp sound; a near-lack of score keeps you in perpetual jump-scare anticipation, but thankfully it doesn’t go that route. Really quite rewatchable and, for me, passed the “Is it Kinda Scary to Watch in the Dark?”* test.

(*i.e., I’m compelled to turn the lights back on – like, a lot – but I’m too lazy)

365 Days of Horror, Day 33: One Last Dive (short) (2013)

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one last dive short 2013When 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.

All that in under two minutes. More, please!

365 Days of Horror, Day 32: Escargore (short) (2015)

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escargrore short horrror

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“.

365 Days of Horror, Day 31: Dark Times (short) (2010)

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dark times 2010 short horror

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!

365 Days of Horror, Day 30: No Through Road (short) (2009)

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no through road short 2009 creepypastaSuch 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.

365 Days of Horror, Day 29: Sea Devil (short) (2015)

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sea devil short horror film 2015The 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.

365 Days of Horror, Day 28: Japanese Sex Nightmare (short) (

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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.

365 Days of Horror, Day 27: The Babysitter and The Boogeyman (short) (2015)

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the babysitter and the boogeyman short 2015

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:

365 Days of Horror, Day 26: Death in C Minor (short) (2015)

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death in c minor short horror 2015

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.

(SPOILERS)

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.