Bowie, darn it! Horror and its sequels!
I swear it was just last year when I went to Columbia City, Seattle’s Ark Lodge Cinemas (just 3 miles from my house!) to see SkeleTony and TaylorOfTerror, those fine gentlemen of the Grave Plot Podcast present a bunch of shorts to a theater full of horror fans.
Oh it was. Last year’s presentation (my review) was a big hit – kicking off a season of shorts to continue with Bone Bat in April (hell, Bone Bat’s Steve – guest on our horror comedy podcast episode was there!) and Crypticon Film Festival in May – and this year outsold last!
Cody joined me, and we had a blast with the 17 shorts! Here’s my notes on each! … I didn’t take notes during the show itself, so I apologize if I get some details wrong. It’s very likely many of these shorts will be coming through your town for various festivals – keep an eye out. This list is in alphabetical order rather than show order or ranking.
Fresh; USA: Tatiana Wisniewski
From the LA Film School, a college student undergoes some changes after she puts on her dead grandmother’s necklace and accidentally curses herself. I like the idea of the short, accidentally bringing something to yourself beyond your control , but I found the execution a little lacking. But it’s not bad – just not quite there, one more pass at the script to tighten it up and get a little more focus. The performances were good enough and it moves alright.
Hide and Seek: China; dir. Radheya Jegatheva
A student picks up an abandoned USB drive and gives himself a virus – a monster playing hide and seek. There is some cleverness here, in slowly realizing what’s going on and how the student starts to perceive it – especially in the countdown. It moves a little slower than a pressing terror should, and thus doesn’t build tension – the audience is aware of where this is going before the character does, but we don’t feel it looming.
Honeymoon; USA: dir. Alex Fumas
A young couple go on their honeymoon in the woods as he thinks he may be stalked but the horrid grandmother he killed. That final shot! I liked this a great deal, a solid paranoid feeling as the possible haunting (is it guilt or a ghost?) along with the real threat of an odd call from the police with just *one more question*. Luke Shuck plays the skittishness of his situation very well. The film is a little long at 15 minutes and the monster mask looks just like a mask despite good work being done to blend it to the body make up (it’s the eyes that betray it), but the ending will please. And boy did it at the show! This is playing soon in Bellingham according to an ad I got today on Facebook.
Hidden Reflection; Italy; Eugenio Krilov
I don’t remember much about this, except it ends with the killer guy in drag; indirectly stating a trans desire is evil? I dunno.
Horrorscope; Portugal; dir Pol Digger
A very well done fake trailer about trailers! Lots of clever gags and a killer last joke. I don’t have a lot to say as so much is in context and exists to get the laugh and the feel of the trailers.
Legend of the Wendigo; USA; Brady McAtee and October Yates
I love a good Wendigo story (can’t wait for Antlers in April), and I was very pleased. A Wendigo takes a young boy a posse goes into the woods to rescue him. It goes as well as you’d expect. The monster is the star here and I really loved its design. It legit looked great. The crew had access to a frontier (recreation?) town which lends an air to the film, although the actors are pretty damned bad -sorry-, and look uncomfortable with their dialog and their old-tyme costumes. But the monster makes it work. A favorite.
Loop; USA; Matt Dye
A very well done, clever short of aural mayhem and blood. A weird audio cue infects those who hear it, leading to a series of small chases. (is this what happening outside in Pontypool?) The audio disturbance really gets under your skin, adding to the tension and getting the right effect. A gleeful sense of mayhem. Dig it.
The Lover; UK; Dir: Peter McKiernon
Interesting but troublesome. A man-child doesn’t think his wife should have a choice in their relationship and puts her in a coffin under the ground. He tries to make his case while she cries about being let out. Presumingly funny, I found it hard to get into the humor as too close to those I know who have been through abuse. Weird comment as I normally dig (heh) dark comedies but something just seemed off in the execution, like we’re supposed to identify with him.
Mommy’s Little Monster; USA; Patrick Green
A woman escapes with her son to a cabin the woods. Something may have followed them there, or something worse may have already. The spectre of escaping a real, non-supernatural, abuse looms over the short, creating an unease and sadness of the situations all too many are stuck into in their lives. The performances are incredible, and I appreciate the amount of detail we’re given without direct exposition.
Purple Vision; USA; Justin Vinall
An awkward young woman invites herself to a party to try to make friends. Using a potion (the title), it starts to work… until it doesn’t. Man did the lead actress get the awkwardness spot on. I know I’ve felt that. The other party goers have a great feel in knowing each other but shutting her out in their way. It’s a hard task to sell the levels of comfort and it works. Some fun gore to boot.
NOM: Spain; Dir: Angel Hernández Suarez
It takes a bit to get to the horror and once it comes in, one can see where it’s going but damn this is a well-made short. It looks and feels, in shots and design, like a professional film. It has a great beat to the plot and action.
Novagrad: Italy; Dir: Lorenzo Corvino
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Ugh. If there is one in this pack I straight up thought was awful it was this one. Just drones on and one, with overly sylyized look and forced twists and edginess. I forget most of what happened. Meh.
Overkill; USA; Dir: Alex Montilla
This won the Audience Award and I can see why. It’s a very funny take on the slasher, following the footsteps of Final Girls, and the short Girl #2 and the first segment of Nightmare Cinema (on Shudder). Yes, a very easy genre to riff on and get some basic laughs but there is a love to the genre that shines though. It gets wilder and bloodier as it goes. A heck of a fun time.
The Picture; USA; Dir: Peter Lipsius
A take on The Picture of Dorian Grey – or at least the idea as I think everyone knows the premise but haven’t actually read the book. Fantastic lead performance connects the story of a model and a photographer told now and 30 years ago. A great build to the story allows it to flow between the periods without confusion, working together for the exploration of the characters.
Save Yourself;USA; Dir: Ali Alkhafaji
Funny thing about this – the opening scene could have just been the short. The audience thought it was a funny one-and-done and starting clapping when the title came up. Luckily, the remainder of the short is darn funny too. Many may be annoyed, this is the type where everyone plays for laughs- the style I think of as DisneyChannelTroma. Irrevelant and goofy, wearing its stupidity on its sleeve, Save Yourself was fun, funny, and goofy and gory. Monster looks pretty good for being purposely cheap.
StalagIII-C; Belarus; Dir: Jason Rogan
I can see the conversation. “We got a tank and some WWII Uniforms. wanna make a movie?” So a tank is cool. I admit it. I just wish this WWII escape monster movie was better. It frankly looks cheap. I just wanted to watch Overlord or that episode of Creepshow again. Those used the WWII setting to better effect. (they did have a professional nature, so it’s unfair to compare but whatever)
Watch Out; Netherlands; Dir: Shariff Nasr
A young boy visits his grandfather, but there seems to be a ghost fucking with him as well. I loved this short, one of my favorites of the festival . The build of the horror really works, slowly revealing more and more. It works.
And there we are! 17 Shorts. Mostly pretty awesome, a few didn’t work for me. But that happens with shorts. Trust me, I’ve seen so many.
Here’s to year three!