6 Short Horror Films: Texas Frightmare Weekend 2012

Saturday afternoon at this year’s Texas Frightmare Weekend there was a screening of six short horror films (there was supposed to be seven, but we’ll get to this below).  Whoever chose the shorts did a nice job of gathering up some diverse films.  There’s an experimental flick, a horror-comedy, two that take place in an abandoned warehouse, and two very different sci-fi themed shorts.

The first one screened was KLAGGER (2012; 12mins).  This is one of the shorts that takes place in an abandoned warehouse.  This is the story of Perry (Matthew Aycock), a worker who’s job is going into abandoned warehouses in order to see what can be salvaged.  This particular warehouse had a horrible accident occur that shut it down.  The accident was so horrendous that the spirit of the man killed still haunts the warehouse.  Written and directed by Casey Crow, KLAGGER’s story isn’t anything you haven’t seen before, but Crow’s filming style is what makes this one worth your time.  The cinematography, by Anthony Gutierrez, is beautiful and I love the choice of colors used.  The film has a kind of yellow-reddish hue to it that helps increase the tension.  Crow and Gutierrez create some beautiful shots and do a nice job developing cut-with-a-knife tension before the titular spirit appears.

The next two shorts, DOLL BOY (2010; 27mins) and THE CODE (2011; 6mins) I had seen before.  DOLL BOY, simply put, is a great fucking short (my review)!!  Bloody Billy Pon really delivered a fast-paced, creepy, nightmarish, and gory short about the titular character, living alone in an abandoned warehouse, being supplied human beings to “play with.”  I can’t say enough good things about this short!!  THE CODE is the horror-comedy in the group and director Mark Blitch understands the material enough to know that anything over 6 minutes would’ve felt stretched and played out.  The story is about two lovers getting romantic during a midnight picnic when they’re ambushed by zombies … and a serial killer … and Bigfoot.  Uh oh; someone didn’t look at their Google Calendar!!  This one is really clever and has some genuinely funny moments.

The next film screened was perhaps the most interesting of the bunch, OTHER (2011; 15mins).  This is the story of Patrick (David Steiger), a doctor who discovers he has a very aggressive and deadly cancer growing inside himself and decides to bypass the conventional medical avenues and conducts his own research.  His research leads to a very radical new procedure that works in removing the cancer … but there are some brutal side effects.  Everything about this short is spot on.  Daniel DelPurgatorio, the director and co-writer (along with Rob Foster and Anthony R. Williams) crafted a tight, fast-paced story that grabs you from the first frame and keeps you glued to the screen.  There’s also some biting commentary on the current state of health care and the way pharmaceutical companies ‘run the show.’  Steiger gives a great performance as a man at the end of his rope desperately trying to save his life at any cost.  OTHER is DelPurgatorio’s debut live action short, and I’m willing to bet we’re gonna see a lot more from him in the future.

Next up was FALLOW (2009; 14mins).  FALLOW (written and directed by Dave Alexander and Colin Landry) explores the delicate balance between Man and Nature and what happens when that balance is corrupted.  All across a small farming community, baby calves are being stillborn with barbed wire threaded throughout their bodies.  This is the catalyst of bad things to come after a sacred pact established centuries ago with a presence in the soil has been broken.  FALLOW has a decent enough story to it but lacks a certain punch that all the other shorts have.  The plot unfolds in a predictable way and doesn’t throw anything unusual or ‘twisty’ at us.  Technically, the film also offers nothing too exciting.  This isn’t a bad short, but compared to it’s fellow shorts screened, it fails to really grab you.

The final horror short screened was ENDLESS (2011; 9mins), an experimental film about a man (Chris Geere) being attacked in a bathroom by what seems to be some kind of supernatural creatures (Katy Gannon, Jenna Harrison, and Martina McClements).  This nine minute short details the attack (which takes place in about 30 seconds) in slow motion and at times, super slow motion.  Writer-director Matt Bloom captures and creates some really beautiful and horrifying shots and even gets in an homage to Lucio Fulci!  ENDLESS isn’t about the story itself and never attempts to answer questions like who the creatures are, who the man is, why these things are attacking him, etc …  ENDLESS is about the attack itself and seeing it from different perspectives and angles.  Very creative and fun.

The most disappointing part of the screening was that the program mentioned that there was going to be seven shorts screened.  The last one was supposed to be FAMILIAR (2012; 24mins), written and directed by Richard Powell.  This one should ring a bell with you because I watched and reviewed FAMILIAR back in January of this year (my review) and absolutely loved and raved about it.  But after the sixth short was screened the the Texas Frightmare Weekend 2012, the lights came up and that was it.  No FAMILIAR.  I was really looking forward to seeing this one on the big screen and seeing the reactions of my fellow horror lovers as they watched the climax of the film.  So what happened TFW??

All in all, whoever selected the horror shorts to screen did a really nice job of giving a cross-section of what the horror genre has to offer.  They were all well made and well acted with a few flaws here and there.  But my question remains … what happened to FAMILIAR??

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer from the Texas Frightmare Weekend 2012

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