2021 Festival Review –Supernatural shorts

An insight in to this years selection of Supernatural short films, showing at this years festival 25th September 2021.

Bee-El (Directed by CJ Vecchio)


The film follows Sabrina (Cate Rio), an ‘innocent young girl’ who befriends a malicious entity that inhabits her closet, bringing out a whole new evil side to Sabrina. Bee-El confronts our expectations through twisting the story to create an exciting tale brimming with sheer terror and exceptional scares.

Mimicry (Directed by Natalie Parker) 

Mimicry is an intensely affective film that mirrors societal pressures of psychical appearances, and how one’s personal worth is continuously scrutinized by misleading perceptions. We follow Alice (Isabella Percival), an ex-pageant star who is attempting to navigate the world without tiaras. Joining Alice on this horrific journey is Izzi (Sonora Hills), who has her own personal demons eating away at her. Their joining fears over judgement soon escalate and together they must survive a terrifying night of self discovery. 

Foresight (Directed by David Yorke) 

Foresight is one of the most impressive one minute films you will ever see. Tessa (Rachel Lin), is cleaning out her dead grandmother’s house, ridding the years of collected clutter, however her mundane day rapidly takes a turn for the absolute worst as she discovers a cryptic wooden box holding a mysterious item that will change the course of her life forever. Foresight is a quick and witty take on sudden realisations and the horror that comes with the unknown. 

2:15 (Directed by Matteo Valentini) 

2:15 is a complete whirlwind, the viewer does not even catch a break for a second in this quick paced, exhilarating film following a woman who is running away from a horrific monster only to find that the real beast lies much closer to home than she thought. Matteo Valentini delivers a perplexing feat of realism through the eyes of a dreamlike world. The nightmarish 2:15 is as disturbingly horrid as it is entertaining due to the revelation of real life horrors and how unearthed trauma will eventually catch up to you. 

Attached (Directed by Emre Yapici) 

Attached centres on Mert (Ercan Orta), who has a history of disregarding his relationships without ever taking the blame. Passing on the consequences has worked for a while, but unbeknownst to Mert, his previous fling lies heavier than he thought. Attached is not only a visual triumph, with the gleaming camerawork showcasing Emre Yapici’s visions, but the films ‘big reveal’ is narratively blood-curdling.

Burn the Bitch (Directed by Kieran O’ Toole) 

Burn the Bitch is a fantastical powerhouse that doesn’t come to play gently. We follow Rob (Joshua Diffley), who is dragged completely out of his comfort zone as he is brought to a concert. However, his unfamiliarity is soon eased as he meets his dream girl, Daria (Carlotta Morelli), a mysterious, new Italian woman. Despite their differences they strike up a caring romance, yet nothing is ever as it seems. Burn The Bitch is a visually mesmerising romantic comedy that is a clear ode to masters of the genre including those associated with Giallo cinema, such as Mario Bava and Dario Argento. 

Awake in the Dream (Directed by Miles Carter) 

Awake in the Dream aims to alert our senses through a deeply igniting tale of grief and haunting visions. We follow a man learning to live without his girlfriend who had an untimely death. But his journey through grief is plagued by unusual sounds and terrifying illusions of what he’s so desperate to repress. The film is alluring through its stunning cinematography and solid acting, all the whilst still following a dark and daunting tale of loss and consequences. 

Sedalia (Directed by Brandon L. Pennick) 

Sedalia follows Helen (Lisa Crosthwait), a newly retired costume designer who moves into a quaint farmhouse in the sleepy countryside. Country life proves to be idyllic at first, that is until a series of paranormal occurrences prompts her to investigate the home’s history and discovers a gruelling secret. Sedalia has a natural charm as the beautiful yet haunting landscape rings true to classic folk horror, but rather than rely on tropes, Brandon Pennick creates a totally unique film rife with disturbing twists and turns. 


2021 Festival Review –Student shorts part II

An insight in to this years selection of dystopian short films, showing at this years festival 25th September 2021.

Let’s All Go to the Lobby! (Directed by Nolan Barth)

Nolan Barth’s Let’s All Go to the Lobby is a freaky, bizarre, and imaginative short horror that follows Alex (Kelley Pereira), a theater employee, and her childhood best friend who must battle against the cinema snack counter that has come to life after a cursed film is unearthed. The reanimated popcorn, candy, and sodas are a clear ode to the crazy creatures you’d see in classic B-movies, with their toothy bloody grins, and contorted limbs coming straight out of Braindead (1992), Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978), and Evil Dead 2 (1987). Teaming up with the stellar practical effects is the brazen balance that Barth has managed to juggle, at one point you’ll be laughing out loud and the next shrieking from the gnarly terror that takes no prisoners. 

The House That Bleeds (Directed by Ben Ellis-Nicholson)

The House That Bleeds is an unexpected frightful affair that goes above and beyond the definition of creative through its innovative character and set design. When an expecting couple is left a house in a will they take this ideal opportunity to start the next chapter of their lives together. The house is a bit rundown, but nothing that a bit of paint won’t fix, little do they know that beyond the walls lies a dark, sinister secret ready to wreck bloody havoc. The story alone is enough to have audiences queuing to see it, however the true beauty of this gem is that creator Ben Ellis-Nicholson used puppets in favour of actors, creating a visual overload that still scares despite the Muppet-esque quality. 

The Apparition (Directed by Trevor Hagen)

Carly (Samantha Bowes), must overcome her personal demons as she fights through her grief to conquer an evil tall entity that has been stalking her every move. Throughout the film the daunting atmosphere infiltrates every shot, with a menacing sense of dread being the focus of the horror. Trevor Hagen flaunts his obvious flair for creating a haunting tone through immersing the viewer so far into the film that the terror is inescapable. Although a clear backstory is given, much of Carly’s past is told in non-descript flashbacks, allowing the emotions to speak for themselves. The Apparition prides itself in creating an unsettling environment that disconcerts and rattles its viewer. 

Psychophonic (Directed by Aline Romero)

One night during a full moon, a dainty cat walks atop a roof when it hears music coming from below. The curiosity bites and it enters the spooky home, only to be trapped. Whilst attempting to escape, the cat discovers a strange secret that the mysterious gramophone holds. Across Psychophonic a peculiar world is built, encapsulated by crooked interiors, and a dark colour palette. Furthering the whole unfamiliarity is the stop motion animation method that director Aline Romero utilises, exaggerating the quirky-horror vibe that is reminiscent of works such as Coraline (2009) and The Wolf House (2018). 

The Hangman (Directed by Edoardo Magliarella) 

The Hangman fixates on exactly what makes a short horror effective; potent timing, quick pacing, and a memorable ending that leaves you wanting more. Edoardo Magliarella delivers an aptly short that explores the terrors that await when you are home all alone. We focus on a student who is working late one night. After a short break a mysterious piece of paper headed with “Let’s play” appears on the table. Magliarella works by not showing every malevolent deed, instead the horror is evoked by making the evil force unseeable, ensuring that we are unaware of what the threat is going to do next…

Old Friend (Directed by Joseph Schlapsi) 

Old Friend follows Ellie (Reilly Nelson) and Thomas (Joseph Schlapsi), whose relationship is tested when an old friend of Thomas’s calls asking for company. Ellie insists that she trusts him, however it’s not long until she begins wondering where he is, leading her to suspect that not everything is quite as it seems. Old Friend is purposefully misleading and convoluted, leading us to think that one thing is happening when in fact much more sinister events are bubbling under the surface. This prolonged buildup of tension is even further escalated by the lingering score and close up cinematography. 

The Monster (Under the Bed) (Directed by Sammie Jo-Cunnane) 

Sometimes the best horror films that really get under your skin come from the simplest ideas, take for example The Monster (Under the Bed). The film follows Luna (Alison Nicholls), a young girl who’s bedtime story reveals a harrowing secret and the horrid nightmare that derives from abuse. Although The Monster tackles an archetypal story from the forefront, underneath lies a deeply sensitive story that is not dulled down and retreated from the main narrative. Alternatively, the troubles that Luna suffers with become the face of the film, prompting the question as to who is the real monster. 


2021 Festival Review –Dystopian shorts

An insight in to this years selection of dystopian short films, showing at this years festival 26th September 2021.

Eject (Directed by David Yorke, 2019) 

Eject takes us on a dystopian journey that mirrors societal fears of unknown technology and the threat of personal discovery. We follow Kate (Elena Saurel), as she discovers that the strange rash on her arm is actually a USB port. Curiosity soon gets the better of her as she finds herself in a strange myriad where one has the chance to alter their life. Eject tackles human greed unlike any other short film. Whilst the complex narrative is enough to evoke terror on its own, David Yorke insists on amping up the story through dazzling camera work that captures an unfamiliar sense of dread and sheer terror. 

Standing Woman (Directed by Tony Hipwell, 2021) 

Standing Woman follows Tom (Anton Thompson), a filmmaker enlisted under the government. Across time his work has certainly affected people, and not in a good way, leading him to embark on a journey where he carries the guilt from his work as well as his sorrow over his wife’s fate. Standing Woman is challenging in the sense that we are hit with a force of empathy, enforced even further by incredibly complex character depth, especially through Tom. Creator Tony Hipwell, manages to battle social/political satire whilst creating a daunting world that borders on the terrors of eco-horror, without becoming cliche or predictable. Standing Woman is a visually stunning film that knows exactly how to capture its audience. 

Safe Inside (Directed by Peter Young, 2021) 

Safe Inside is an isolating thriller that uses both horror and drama to create a claustrophobic world dosed with allegories and greater fears. We follow Ethan (Maitiú McGibbon), a young boy whose only companion is his Father (Damien Lumsden). In a very cryptic style Ethan’s Father only speaks of terror in the outside world, manipulating Ethan into believing that his indoor seclusion is for his benefit and safety. However, after sneaking out Ethan realised everything is not as it seems. Immediately Safe Inside rings similar to Room (2015) and Dogtooth (2009), but rather than emulate what we’ve already seen the film blasts an entirely unique storyline that aims to intimidate, unease, and sympathise with the viewer. 

Viola (Directed by Paul W. Franklin, 2021)

Viola is a short film that knows exactly what it’s doing. Rather than tiptoeing around a terrifying story, director Paul W. Franklin goes straight for the jugular through delivery of a twisted film filled with shock, suspense, and scares. Viola follows a couple, Jo (Marian Elizabeth) and Tim (David Frias-Robles), as they embark on a romantic getaway to a rural house where they are greeted by a virtual assistant technology device known as Viola (voiced by Hilary Beaton). At first this Alexa-like machine is handy, yet as the night unravels it becomes apparent that a greater force may be occupying the house. 

Fated (Directed by Jack Berry, 2021)

Beth’s (Gwyneth Rhianwen) life turns upside down when she discovers a familiar face deceased in an empty field. Fated from the first beat aims to alter the viewers sense of reality through compelling deception and a frightfully alarming narrative. With such a bold story it could be easy to rely on ‘shock-scares’, but Jack Berry manages to create a slow burner all within the three minute run time. 


2021 Festival Review –Student shorts Part I

An insight in to this years selection of student short films, showing at this years festival 24th September 2021.

Chateau Sauvignon: terroir (Directed by David E. Munz-Marie)

The cleverly named Chateau Sauvignon: terroir follows Nicolas (Michael Lorz), who comes from a vintner family. He lives on the wine farm with his ailing mother and coarse father. In hopes of helping his poor mother Nicolas aims to take on an active role within the business (much to the dismay of his father), but his plan’s take a turn for the worse when two guests arrive at the farm. Although the film is a mere thirteen minutes long, what David E. Munz-Marie has managed to pack into the short time is phenomenal. In fact Chateau could easily be a feature length film, divulging into the dark history of the family. Expect to witness haunting imagery that bares the film’s soul, alongside a vividly rich story that leaves you wanting more and more. 

White Witch (Directed by Harvey Loftus, 2021) 

White Witch is at first reminiscent of great modern folk films, particularly that of Ben Wheatley’s filmography including Kill List (2011), but rather than overtly recreate what’s already out there, Harvey Loftus creates an original and complex piece exploring the witch trials. White Witch takes place in 1712, a time after the Islandmagee trials that plagued Northern Ireland. We see the aftermath of the trials as eight imprisoned witches are due to be released, but Malachy O’ Farrell (Adam Todd), the culprit who incarcerated these women, is getting weaker by the day, leading him to seek the help of ‘The White Witch’ (Caitlin Snowden) herself. 

Moonlit Requiem (Directed by Arthur S. Edelman, 2020) 

Moonlit Requiem unites igniting performances with intense cinematography to shape a unique short film that explores a story of familial labyrinths and fear of the unknown. We follow Jill (Angharad L. Ford), a young woman who goes on a trip to meet her husband’s family for the first time. Despite the usual discomfort that comes with meeting new people, Jill suspects that the tension has a much more sinister undertone. Moonlit Requiem plays out both visually and morally like an A24 film, and in a similar tone the film takes an unexpected route and delivers a distinctive entry into pagan horror.

The Phantom Limb (Directed by Daniel Fowlie) 

The Phantom Limb is unlike any other short horror you are likely to come across. To even describe the basic plot would be a misjustice as the terror lies in the total surrealism that is prominent across the entire film. We are subjected to strange interactions between unknown characters, and are left in the dark throughout, creating a chilling atmosphere that aims to assault the senses. As an aura the film has a hint of Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989) in its audible and visual tone, and for anyone who hasn’t seen that Japanese classic just know that it is not intended for the faint hearted. In line with this essence of absurdity is the film’s innate portrayal of the self. The Phantom Limb is questionable and disorderly, but in the best possible way. 

The Unwanted Guest (Directed by Max Willocx, 2021) 

The Unwanted Guest plays on genre tropes though imitating a well known tale of a woman on her own who hears strange noises, but rather than drift into a cliche, the film does the ultimate paradigm shift and turns into a terrifying ordeal. What sets The Unwanted Guest apart is the exceptionally tense build up that utilises every single second of screen time. The setting isn’t overtly unnerving, it’s well lit and is a large room, yet somehow Max Willocx creates a spine-tingling atmosphere that has you on the edge of your seat. 

Night Terror (Directed by David Duke, 2021)

Clowns have long held a significant place within horror. They wear the crown for being the most ghastly and abhorrent monster, the worst of the worst. And director, David Duke knows exactly how to create a dreadfully creepy atmosphere that disturbs and startles the audience. This three minute short is an impressive independent horror right to the core, in fact it was all shot and edited on a phone, living proof that great horror is all about the passion. 


2021 Festival Review –Slasher shorts

An insight in to this years selection of slasher short films, showing at this years festival 24th September 2021.

Bloodshed (Directed by Paolo Mancini & Daniel Watchorn, 2020) 

Bloodshed follows Getty (Bruno Verdoni), who is mourning the death of his wife after a vicious blood disease killed her. To cope Getty turns his ‘unusual hobby shed’ into a barbaric bloody altar in order to restore balance and search for redemption. The film opens with a sinister passage from the bible, explaining that “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of Sin.” Hebrews 9:22. The scripture lines up this anticipation that whatever we are about to witness will be memorable, remarkably dark, and effective. Promising a film soaked in dread is Paolo Mancini and Daniel Watchorn, who together have created an unbelievably suspenseful film that manages to make twelve minutes feel like a feature length exploration into denial and the betrayal of the self 

Overkill (Directed by Alex Montilla, 2019) 

Overkill takes a story that is familiar at its roots, a group of college students take a trip to the lake, whilst unbeknownst to them a masked killer is watching their every move. But rather than rely on tropes to escalate the film, Alex Montilla shreds any predictability through creating a hilarious, laugh out loud story. Matching the eccentric flow is the exciting and captivating cinematography that revels in exposing how creepy a lone forest setting can be. 

Fat Camp (Directed by Sacha Pavlovic, 2021) 

Fat Camp is a dark comedy through and through which follows a typical slasher narrative, but with plenty of twists and turns along the way. The film follows a handful of men who are attending a so-called ‘masculinity retreat’, which obviously is a disguise for a ‘fat camp’. But Instead of getting in shape and being active, they are preoccupied by the return of an ex-camper who is hungry for their lives. The whole aspect of a camp and a mysterious killer is a clear nod at genre classics, including the unforgettable Friday the 13th (1980). Rather than recycle what we’ve already seen, creator Sacha Pavlovic gives us a fresh, fun, and brutal camp slasher that goes above and beyond the norm. 

Hold Your Breath (Directed By Kameron Gates & Tommy Weber, 2017) 

Hold Your Breath follows Molly (Emily Sweet), a young woman who seems to have a mysterious past, but her darker days are behind her. However everything is not as it seems after a midnight swim gives her the fright of her life. Hold Your Breath is feathered with incredibly rich cinematography that boasts stunning landscapes and personal close ups, creating this entangled world, very reminiscent of The Neon Demon (2016) and Starry Eyes (2014). Combine these inspirations with surrealist elements and an attention demanding setting then you have a stand out film that lingers with the audience. 

Test Footage (Directed by Doiminic Evans, 2020) 

Test Footage manages to do something that many short films are unable to achieve- creating a thrilling, tense ride all in the space of 5 minutes, using just one setting, and a small cast. We follow an actor as he runs through a script with a director for a potential role. The atmosphere is already slightly daunting due to the director’s menacing attitude, but the events become much more catasphrophic as a dark secret is unraveled. Test Footage is a claustrophobic film in the sense that the viewer is positioned closely to the horror, ensuring that the terror is entirely inescapable, making Test Footage a disturbing exercise into the nightmarish world of the human psyche. 

Backstage (Directed by Lars Janssen, 2021)

Backstage is a visual feast that takes inspiration from the 70s rock and roll scene, followed by keen performances, lurid lighting, and a solid thrilling narrative. The film follows Margot (Charlotte Dawn Potter), as she searches for her best friend who went missing the same night as they met an acclaimed rock star. Across the entirety of the film we are not given a moment to breathe, with the ‘full throttle’ essence being truly exercised, but that’s not to say that Backstage doesn’t take its time in developing a shocking tale of deceit, outlandish characterisation, and unforgettable imagery. 


2021 Festival Review – Brain Freeze

Peacock Island from the outset is drowning in its own lavishness, with grand houses and expensive (probably self-driving) cars lining the streets of this exclusive land of the side of Quebec. Money is no issue here, meaning that the regulars’ hobbies mainly include visiting the private golf club. However, with Canada’s cold winter comes mountains of snow tarnishing the precious golf course, but lucky for them a chemical has been created which eludes nature’s constitution and melts the snow, restoring the green grounds. Unbeknownst to residents, the chemical turns the local’s into ravenous zombies. 

Julien Knafo brings us this socially conscious zombie extraordinaire which uses the role of a zombie to weave through a complex vision of ostracization, the division of elitism, and the overarching sense of greed amongst society. Zombies have long been used as a tool to catalyse a weighty narrative, with White Zombie (1932) being an early example, and Train to Busan (2016) proving that modern filmmakers still use the creature as a device. Joining the allegiance alongside zombie classics is Brain Freeze, which is sure to be remembered not only for its commentary, but also its sophisticated exterior that screams to be admired. 

Throughout the film we are treated to a courageous set design that mainly boasts modern lushness, but all of this ‘glam’ is only an acting backdrop which juxtaposes against the braveness and ruthlessness of the characters. We follow a typical angsty teenager, André  (Iani Bédard) as he has to care for his baby sister whilst outrunning the undead. In his flight he meets Dan (Roy Dupius), a security guard who frequently works on the Island. Together they form an unlikely band of fighters who vow to do whatever is necessary to survive. Whilst André is an ‘Island native’, Dan is not, instead he simply travels over the wall for work and then retreats to his small studio apartment when the day’s work ends. 

What’s typical amongst many apocalypse style films (zombie or not) is that a group of survivors will naturally come from different backgrounds, and despite their differences they all abandon their intrinsic personalities and become clones of one another. I was more than pleasantly surprised to see that Knafo did not succumb to this genre conformity and instead kept André slightly conceited even in draconian times, creating a more realistic portrayal and ensuring that the film remained interesting and refreshing. 

Following the amalgamation of characters and the cultural annotation is a wicked brutality that keeps an edge on the dark humour, allowing the film to avoid coming across as just another take on Shaun of the Dead (2004). The jokes are kept dry and the atmosphere although comical at times remains threatening. One of the laughable highlights is when one of the golf club members believes that a herd of angry zombies are just a group of workers who want to unionize. 

This notion of keeping the film exciting and not slapstick-based is the origin story of the virus, coupled with the imagery. Despite the infestation deriving in the golf club the zombie-chemical worms its way through the grounds and into the Island’s water system, poisoning nearly the entire population Cabin Fever style. Further negotiating this essence of the earth retaliating against its abusers (who’d rather profit than let nature run its cycle) is the sci-fi elements such as the cold tonal palettes, existential dread, and an uprising of evil creatures. 

As I type and as you read, the copious topics that Knafo explores combined with the forgoing plot shifts may externally replicate a film that is too mashable, yet the changes are smoothly adapted and you become so engrossed in the fates of the characters that you end up welcoming the braveness of Knafo’s filmmaking. Brain Freeze is memorable and a warming surprise to a subgenre that needs a bit of revival every now and then. 

You can check out Brain Freeze on Sunday 26th September 2021 at this years fest, tickets and details here.


2021 Festival Review – Creature Short Films

An insight in to this years selection of creature short films, showing at this years festival 26th September 2021.

The Taxi Dead (Directed Simon Lahm, 2020) 

The Taxi Dead follows Paul (David Zimmerschied), who must survive a horrible night alongside his Bavrian taxi driver Karl (Manuel Renken), as they join forces to battle against the great undead. Bringing us this gruesome zombie short is Simon Lahm who clearly knows a thing or two about creating a stellar creature feature. The Taxi Dead explores an area of zombie cinema that is crying out for more attention; the fact that the zombies are these gruelling beasts hungry for flesh is obviously terrifying, but when you combine this with the notion that mere hours before their ‘transformation’ they were normal human beings is entirely sinister. The film focuses on this idea that we are all monsters deep down. The Taxi Dead is unmissable and definitely a short film to be remembered. 

Monsters Aren’t Real (Directed by Kristina Moschella, 2021)

We accompany Ebony (Michelle Randall) as she investigates a strange noise coming from inside her home, little do we know that much greater terror lies ahead. Monsters are children’s worst nightmare during childhood, with many having memories of checking under the bed and in the wardrobe to make sure that no ghouls crept in these crevices during playtime. Although we grow out of it, the idea of being alone with some macabre creature is still terrifying, and that’s what makes Kristina Moschella’s ‘Monsters Aren’t Real’ so spooky and reminiscent of good old fashioned horror. 

Posted No Hunting (Directed by Alisa Stern, 2021)

Alisa Stern (@TheDoctorPuppet) | Twitter

Posted No Hunting is a bewildering, creepy, and disconcerting stop motion animated horror directed by Alisa Stern (also known as The Doctor Puppet creator). The film runs quickly with its runtime just hitting under the 3 minute mark, but do not be fooled as Posted No Hunting works alongside the quick pacing to deliver a purposefully questionable narrative consisting of a deer and a disturbing creature. Furthering Stern’s innovativeness is the ‘found footage’ technique in which the film is presented in, allowing for plenty of up close shots and fuzzy camera work that distorts and disturbs. 

For Sale (Directed by Francesco Gabriele, 2020)

For Sale (Short 2020) - IMDb

For Sale is a perfect example of a film that begins one way and ends up completely different, ensuring that we are kept in the dark and unsure of what to expect. The cryptic For Sale follows Carla (Octavia Gilmore), and Luca (Nicolas Vaporidis), a young couple who can’t keep their hands off one another, but their blissful relationship harbours a dark secret that bursts when they pick up a second hand tv from the mysterious Mr. Levi (Randall Paul). For Sale works through repositioning the horror from multiple angles throughout. The couple and the setting itself is suspicious, but then Mr. Levi also has his unusual quirks. Director Francesco Gabriele compliments these changing horror tones throughout the film by juxtaposing a picturesque rural setting of a quaint Italian town that is also drastically abandoned despite its appeal. Due to this we immediately sense a danger within the isolation, leaving us impatiently waiting to see how and why Carla and Luca might be in over their heads, despite the forewarnings and our intuition we are still shocked when the true terror is unveiled. 

Doggers (Directed by Rory Hern, 2021)

Doggers is a film that aims to take you by surprise through masking its true intentions throughout. The film follows Sam (Daniel Davids) and Raimi (Kane Surry), who are seeking to spice up their love life, but uncover something much more threatening. Doggers takes what you know about horror and twists your expectations. We’ve seen a private meetup between two people in a dark and ominous carpark, and we’ve seen how wrong it can all go, but Rory Hern (director) ensures that the film is the complete opposite of predictable. Hern delivers a fresh take on a classic narrative, allowing for optimal scares that come completely out of the blue. Adding to the unexpectedness of the film is the surprising amount of brutality that Hern has managed to pack into a six minute film, certainly expect to be shocked and scared at this epic tale. 

Clamps (Directed by Zachary T. Scott, 2016)

Clamps (Short 2016) - IMDb

Clamps focuses on a town that is terrorized by killer clamps, to save the day a girl next door, a scientist, and the chief of police is enlisted, but can they stop the clamps before they fully take over. With a plot so ludicrous it would be easy for the film to get lost within its own madness, yet creator Zachary T. Scott tackles the chaos through juggling the humour and the horror. Clamps takes aim at reviving classic B-movie horror where just about anything can be the villain, and nearly anything goes. To achieve something that makes you chuckle as well as grosses you out all within six minutes is immense, making Clamps a standout short film. 

Dead End (Directed by Jack Shillingford, 2020)

Dead End (Short) - IMDb

Dead End follows Tyler (Steven Blades), as he takes a nighttime drive through rural woodlands, but looming in the territory is something with sinister intentions. Jack Shillingford knows exactly how to amp up the fear factor through utilizing an isolated setting, making you feel just as alone and lost in the situation as Tyler. Implementing the film’s neo-folk vibes is the remarkable creature design that lives up to the poster’s beastly visuals. But above and beyond all of the effects and scares, possibly the most impressive aspect is how such a contained film with just one lead manages to convey a story that is totally worthy of an entire feature film. 

Her Release (Directed by Valentine Miele, 2021)

Her Release - FilmFreeway

Her Release is genuinely unlike anything you would expect. The eclectic story shows a woman after love who lets herself get completely lost within the moment. Whilst the absurdist quality is undeniably grained throughout the entire short, the real admirable factor is how director Valentine Miele presents the surreal elements. Generating a weird and wonderful narrative is obviously a talent, but to make the actual film work so well is truly impressive. Her Release is a beautifully monstrous film that is not to be missed. 

Wich (Directed by Anthony R. Williams, 2021)

Wich (Short 2021) - IMDb

Wich is everything that a short creature film should be, dark, slightly humorous, and more importantly able to pack a quick punch within a minute’s notice. The film starts out rather mundane with a husband and wife (Aaron Christensen and Michelle Courvais) going about their morning routine by playing crosswords and making coffee, but their ordinary morning soon turns into a beastly horror story when they discover something alarming in their fridge. Creator Anthony R. Williams knows how to play out a comedy horror narrative, with the sporadic change of events coming in at perfect timing, alongside the impressive effects that ensures that Wich remains just the perfect amount of creepy. 

Curiosity Corner

Dead Serious Chat – From Our Friends At DeadHappy

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Life: 100% mortality rate

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*Zombies, vampires and other members of the not alive, ever living club need not apply.


2021 Festival Review – Thriller shorts

An insight in to this years selection of thriller short films, showing at this years festival 24th September 2021.

Upstairs (Phillip Trow, 2020) 

Upstairs is reminiscent of those awkward family dinners where the mere idea of meeting your spouse’s family sends shivers down your spine, but in the world of Upstairs the unpleasantness is turned up by quite a few notches as we follow the Saint family, comprised of matriarch Shirley (Heather Coombs), and her children Caroline (Yolanda Kettle), Jennifer (Sorcha Groundsell), and James (Luke Newberry). However, their family woes are far from mundane as the arrival of Caroline’s partner Tim (Iain De Caestecker),unravels a damning secret, bearing the true insanity that lies within the Saint’s walls. Upstairs forgoes conventionality as director Phillip Trow opts to present the sheer horror through creating a tense atmospheric tone, highlighted through a daunting environment and well written characters. 

Left Alone in the Snow (Rickey Bird Jr., 2021) 

We follow screenplay writer Lilly (Chelsea Newman), as she retreats to a secluded cabin in the snow, but as strange events begin to occur she must find a way to make it out alive. Being stranded all alone in a snowstorm is eerie enough, but imagine not being able to shake the feeling that your creepy neighbour is taking advantage of your solidarity.  Left Alone in the Snow knows exactly how to play with your fears as filmmaker Rickey Bird Jr. pays homage to classic home invasion/revenge films such as I Spit on Your Grave (Meir Zarchi, 1978) and Black Christmas (Bob Clark, 1974) to create a tense and thrilling winter’s tale. The micro-budget short does an excellent job at creating a gripping buildup that packs a rip roaring punch by the end. 

Parting Frenzy (Ry Williams, 2021) 

Ryan Freda takes us on a twisted journey of the consequences of betrayal as we watch the breakdown of the relationship between Cate (Nicki Davy) and Lee (Kaya Moore). In true horror form we do not know who to side with or even what to believe as Freda superbly deceives us throughout. Parting Frenzy manages to tackle a traditional narrative in a new and exciting light through using its secluded setting to amplify the threat level, all the whilst generating a character study that is worthy of a feature length film. 

Koreatown Ghost Story (Minsun Park & Teddy Tenenbaum, 2021) 

Koreatown Ghost Story follows Mrs. Moon (played by the iconic Margaret Cho), an eccentric woman who finds herself in the company of Hannah (Lyrica Okano). Their somewhat normal-ish encounter soon takes a turn for the worse as Mrs. Moon hatches a sinister plan to bring her son Edward (Brandon Halvorsen) and Hannah together. The underlying supernatural elements to the film is just one way in which a terrifying atmosphere is conjured as the true terror lies within the twisted story that plays out with complete cinematic eloquence. The true advantage of the film lies within its secrecy, but just know that this epic short is not here to play, instead Koreatown Ghost Story positions itself amongst the absolute best. 


2021 Festival Review – Burnt Portraits

Leo X. Robertson has a keen eye for the obscure, with his focus dwelling on the oddities of society, particularly seen in his book Unfortunates (2021) which chronicles eight short and sadistic stories. Robertson’s second feature film Burnt Portraits captures his most exciting project to date as we are thrown into a dark and twisted world permeated with disguises, suspicions, and horrid truths.

Burnt Portraits follows a popular singer (Sam Crichton), whose naivety lands him in deep trouble as he finds himself in the company of a slightly unusual artist in his dim studio (also played by Robertson). Once ‘Singer’ awakens he quickly hits it off with the artist, forming an unexpected bond despite their differences. However, it’s not long until Singer’s trustiness sneaks up on him as sinister chaos begins to erupt… 

Throughout the film you are left unchaperoned as the ‘who, what, when, and where’ remains principally anonymous, and although it may be second nature to surrender to conventionality Robertson takes the long way round and makes us work for the answers. As aforementioned, Singer ends up forming a brief kinship with the Artist.

As their mutual knowledge of one another grows we too get comfortable in their presence, meaning that when the film does a 180 it hits us as quite a shock. Although Robertson takes time in unveiling the film’s catalyst the slowburn route is certainly worthwhile. What facilitates Burnt Portraits lingering disentanglement is the stylistic rejection of coloured film in favour of using black and white. Through foregoing the modern tradition of colour imagery the environment becomes stark and casted in dark shadows, ensuring that the film leaves a visual mark upon its viewer. 

Backing Burnt Portraits melancholic undertone is the isolating narrative that jolts a sense of unease throughout the 99 minute run time. The story takes place in one setting (albeit a large setting), an art studio. But despite the presence of the pair it still feels entirely abandoned and neglected. When we are introduced to Singer the room is somewhat lonely and dark, but the Artist soon turns on the lights. Rather than relaxing in the brightness I found the illumination unwelcoming, as if whatever is ‘out there’ can see even easier, an idle trap. But that’s the beauty of Burnt Portraits, besides the detailed character depth and the progression of the intensity, one of the most harrowing moments relies upon the unknowingness of the situation. 

Burnt Portraits is even more noble when you take into account its small crew and budget, even the set itself was offered up by Crichton’s mother who thought that the basement to her art studio set the perfect scene for a horror film (she was definitely right!). The film is a clear labour of love and its independent background is a great entry into indie-horror. 

Whilst Roberston is just one of the many exciting up-and-coming creators in the field, his unique portrayal of harrowing horror is hauntingly impressive, and I for one hope to see more of his horrific visions make it onto the screen

You can check out the world premiere of Burnt Portraits on Friday 24th September 2021 at this years fest, tickets and details here.