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.