Lots more short horror films to review. As I mentioned before, I absolutely love the short film format for horror projects. When it is done right, there’s nothing better. You can get combinations of tension, scares, great acting, great gore, and great storytelling. Below are a few shorts I think hit all the right notes, and a few that came up … well, came up short.
The first film, And They Watched (2015; 7mins), is unfortunately a short that doesn’t hit all the right notes. In it, the custodian (John Cianciolo) of an electric chair in a penitentiary has a vision of an innocent man being electrocuted in said chair. Writer-director Vivian Lin manages to achieve a little style, but her politics muddles this one down and plunges the story into absurdity. What makes it absurd? The innocent prisoner executed by himself executing another innocent man. Blech.
Crazy Love (2015; 12mins) also has a message, but director Mathieu Charest keeps this one on track and presents one helluva great short. It is poker night, and the girls have gathered around to have some drinks and talk about their relationships. But, the girls know there is something wrong with Samantha (Helena Marie, also the writer of the short film). Besides her injury, she is acting odd. Sam finally confides in Julie (Melissa Hood) and tells her about all the abuse she’s been through at the hands of her boyfriend, Alan (Jason Deline). As Sam tells Julie what happened that day (an especially abusive filled day), Julie realizes she may be in over her head with this situation. Charest keeps this film focused and moving along. But without the cast, this could have been a train wreck. The acting and writing are on point and we get a chilling ending that I wasn’t expecting. I didn’t think it was possible for Sam’s situation to get any worse!! This short is a winner.
The next film may be short in time, but it is long in gore and fun. Never Tear Us Apart (2015; 7mins) is the simple story of two friends, James (Matt Keyes) and Colin (Alex Weiner), who get lost in the woods and stumble upon a cannibal couple in the woods. To tell you any more would be giving away all the fun. Director Sid Zanforlin has a great time with the script, which he co-wrote with Chris Bavota, and the entire cast just runs with the story. Never Tear Us Apart is a winner.
Marty (2015; 16mins) has good intentions but falls short in its execution. traveling salesman Marty (Danny Ghantous) makes a call to the home of an elderly couple. The husband is a little annoyed by the intrusion, but his wife is determined to hear Marty’s pitch. But what is it that Marty is selling? The acting in this one is not all up to snuff, and the story meanders quite a bit. The description for Marty notes that “A travelling salesman reveals himself as a psychopath when he tries to fill the void his parents left.” Nowhere in the short is there anything to suggest that Marty is “filling the void” left by his parents. The writing just isn’t all that strong. And at a little over sixteen minutes, Marty feels as though it drags. This could have been half the run time while accomplishing the same goal.
With all the failings of Marty, the next short, Seiren (2015) does everything right. Written and directed by Kat Threlkeld, Seiren is the story of a model, Abigail (Sayla Vee), is doing a shoot on the beach and gets bit by something in the water. Over the next few days Abigail begins to lose her humanity and transforms into something monstrous. Seiren is slick looking and shot with style. We get clean colors and an overall professional look to the short. The creature f/x are damn impressive and Vee does a tremendous job in her role as Abigail. Seiren is just about as perfect a short film you can get.
This may not be the right season for O Christmas Tree (2015; 14mins), but this is a fun short film that can be enjoyed year round. In it, after listening to some Christmas carolers, Mabel (Bonnie McCrae) invites the seasonal singers into her house for some cookies and hot cocoa. This one is a little predictable, but that doesn’t take away from the fun. There are decapitations galore and a really fun ending that’ll make you yearn for roasting chestnuts.
Another winner is Kurayami No Wa (2015; 10mins). This is a rather batshit-crazy short film made by–get this–fifteen year old director Morgana McKenzie (who also co-wrote the script with Gavin McKenzie). In it, a Japanese doomsday cult hands out tainted candy on Halloween which turns the population into murderous zombies. The plague spreads and the survivors are forced out into the harsh Canadian wilderness. The acting by the young cast is fantastic, and McKenzie tells the story in such a way that Tarantino himself could learn a trick or two. This is a fantastically fun and crazy short.
And They Watched: 1.5 out of 5 stars
Crazy Love: 4 out of 5 stars
Never Tear Us Apart: 4 out of 5 stars
Marty: 2 out of 5 stars
Seiren: 5 out of 5 stars
Kurayami No Wa: 4 out of 5 stars
O Christmas Tree: 3 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer