[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.
[I swear I am watching these every day; I’ve just not been writing them up every day. Londoners…drink a lot.]
This 6-minute short about a possessed porcelain doll makes up for its lack of scares and dread with pointlessly OTT violence. Hey, if in doubt, have a kid brutally murdered on screen and all is scary, right? No need to build any atmosphere or have any credible acting.Well, too bad, because I didn’t care about what happened to this kid. Maybe that’s the real horror?
The doll itself is creepy-looking as hell, but still painfully cheap-looking. While it’s nicely-shot, the music is dull and the story predictable – nothing really moved this short forward. It made me realise how much work went into the seemingly ‘meh’ Conjuring movies to make Annabelle the doll seem menacing.
This decent, beautifully-lit, quaintly-shot short preys on that clichéd creepiness of working alone in a dark room with your back turned. It also extracts the frightening confusion when the world around you breaks the rules – you look through a dusty old camera and see things – scary things – that aren’t there if you don’t look through said camera (still keeping your back turned and narrowing your field of vision).
For those reasons, it’s an effectively unnerving short – at least until the predictable jump scare. The phantom design is a bit poor (just a dude in smeary , marionette-style makeup), and the accompanying shriek is lame. It’s two minutes or so of OK music, tense build-up and then a bit of a let-down that gives way to a whole minute and a half of credits. Meh.
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.
Totally don’t know about you, but when I Skype with my friends and I’m having a quiet night in, I make sure that I’m fully made-up (even with drawn-on eyebrows), and wearing a push-up bra with a tight tank top skirted uncomfortably over the half-cleavage mark. I’ll also continuously do the bend’n’snap manoeuvre in my skimpy boyshorts while holding a series of poses usually reserved for amateur webcam modelling. I’ll also make sure my posture is boob-sharpeningly perfect at all back-arching times!
All the while I’m trying to recreate Rob Liefeld’s Top 40 spine-bending comic book bitch drawings, the energy used to maintain said SEXINESS will unfortunately divert from my ability to act or emote or just do anything other than half-heartedly bounce my tits on film. And not even in a titillating way.
Luckily, nobody watching this short will give a shit, even when my character decides to make a series of unhelpful, incomplete phone calls to a porn-sounding 911 dispatcher, huffing-orgasming in fear with perennial titball-puffage. Everyone will laugh when I grab a knife to protect myself only to slip and fall in my own living room and actually impale myself on the blade, dying while a twist is revealed! Fuck it, this is terrible. And if you’re after sexy horror bitches, this doesn’t even have that. It’s fucking awful. It’s boring. I am allergic to how bad this is.
I’d like to point out now that this horror short is neither scary nor particularly suspenseful. But it’s fucking beautifully atmospheric, like a short horror version of True Detective. There’s almost no true buildup of actual tension, because if you can’t see the titular single noose as the climax, then you, as a seasoned horror veteran, know that there’s more than that coming from a mile off.
But the short’s so impeccably and poetically filmed that you genuinely don’t care. You just watch the visuals, take in the haunting music and the symbolism and the strong emoting of the wide-eyed male lead, and wait for it to complete.
It’s a gorgeously-shot piece of ten minutes. The title may give away at least the gist of the imagery that is to come, but, like I said, you end up not caring. There’s a single cast member – a sheriff’s deputy (Major Dodge, who sounds like a real-life deputy although he’s genuinely a model/actor) and you’re with him throughout – determined, curious, perplexed and ultimately horrified. To say it’s worth a watch would be an understatement; it does crumble significantly under its narrative predictability at the end, but if you go in knowing not to expect to be surprised, you can enjoy it for what it is and for what you make of it.
This gory little shocker had a decent demon design and some bloody good scares, but throughout I could not fucking hear what the hell anybody was saying. The screaming was loud enough, but someone must have literally dropped the boom mic because all I could make out was the odd whisper here and there.
It didn’t matter anyway, because the story was simple enough to follow, right from the opening shot: a dizzying series of spirals and fadeouts over a bloodied ouija board. Six young friends are standing still in various unnatural poses while a demon picks off the wobbly ones. It soon becomes obvious, even without audible dialogue, that anyone who moves gets brutally eviscerated, impaled or has their face split by this smoky, noseless, eyeless spectre.
Two of the leads (Rachel Bright and Jake Hendriks) are competent enough; the rest pretty much only have “shriek and flail wildly” as their dialogue. Veteran monster actor (Game of Thrones, Prometheus, Alien vs. Predator) Ian Whyte cuts a terrifying figure as the party-crashing demon – although to be fair, I guess they rudely awakened him with a Ouija board (which I imagine to be the spiritual equivalent of ringing someone’s doorbell to accept a delivery while they finally, finally went for a quick piss).
I’d love to see more by this production team, and if they can make something this impressive on a mere £3,000 Kickstarter budget, I’d like to see what else they can freshly spin out of what could have been a pretty by-the-numbers slice of horror trope.
I don’t want to spoil it but…this isn’t really unedited footage of a bear. In fact, it’s pretty heavily edited. And its YouTube ad fooled me. Twice.
Click ‘Skip Ad’
Be taken to a landing page for an antidepressant drug called Claridryl
Click on the house in the background
Click nine more times
Click through the various rooms in the house
Click ‘View Page Source’
Then go back and watch the video, and its happy footage of a single, beautiful bear, none of which is disturbing or confusing. It’s Adult Swim, the network that brought us such whimsical series like Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Robot Chicken and Rick and Morty. Also the happy lilting music is happy, because it’s footage of a bear, because bears are warm and cuddly and fuzzy and don’t have a gun, or starkly terrifyingly-composed shots that tell a cautionary tale or are the epitome of modern social commentary or of losing one’s mind under the very influence that claims to help them, because bears.
I can now say I’ve seen a spot of cinema in which a sand-encrusted Spanish man beats up several mermen zombies with a little girls’s corpse. Brutal Relax, a 15-minute short by David Muñoz, Adrián Cardona and Rafa Dengrá, features some quite literally eye-popping special effects and a quirky soundtrack fit for summer on the beach.
The latter of which Mr Olivares (José María Angorrilla) is desperately craving. The minute this wordless, would-be beach bum is discharged from a facility by a suitably nervous doctor, it starts to look as if it’s not a matter of if we’ll see something peer out from his perma-smiling veneer, but when.
And it could have been predictable; I knew nothing going in, but I expected the idyllic beach scenes to be broken up by Olivares going on a bloody rampage, murdering everybody in sight. Not quite. Not anywhere near quite. The remaining 14 minutes present a giddy exercise in smashing mermen zombie heads as if they were (probably made out of) papier maché, and said mermen zombies literally ripping people to shreds in a gleefully OTT splatterfest.
Which is an understatement. I can’t stress how much blood and viscera and exposed bone there is on screen; it’s camp enough to be comical (the aforementioned child’s head lands squarely inside the head of one of the mer-zombies), and the music and breakneck pace means it doesn’t have to stray beyond a non-stop massacre on both sides.
Watch out for the end credits’ photo montage for a bit of a chuckle.