I did the best, I did the worst, and now it’s time for the shorts!! Below is my list of the best shorts I’ve seen in 2014. As always I don’t limit the list to the year we’re currently in. I do this because short films are largely made by independent filmmakers and usually take time to find distribution. With that being said, this year’s list is surprisingly made up almost exclusively of shorts from 2014. The shorts listed below are in no particular order.
This is a definite first for me. This film and the next two films on the list, SPLIT and INK, are all written and directed by Andy Stewart … and are a part of a trilogy. Andy Stewart gets my award for “Biggest Breathe of Fresh Air” of 2014. DYSMORPHIA isn’t just the title of his first short but also tells you everything you need to know about the short. Body dysmorphic disorder is a real mental disorder where someone believes “that one’s own appearance is unusually defective and is worthy of being hidden or fixed.” The key word for Stewart’s short is “fixed.” Not a word of dialogue is spoken but actor Gordon Holliday, known here simply as “The Man,” conveys so much emotion through his actions and facial expressions that the audience can’t help but feel both his physical and mental pain. This short, like all of Stewart’s shorts, is not for the squeamish!! You can watch DYSMORPHIA in it’s entirety below.
This is indie horror filmmaker Andy Stewart’s second short film and he ups the ante in every single way. He doubled the amount of actors, which makes two in this film … Shian Denovan and Austin Hayden (known once again as “The Woman” and “The Man” respectively) and he increased the amount of gore. This short is about a guy who is taking the break up from his girlfriend pretty hard. So hard, in fact, that he’s physically manifesting his guilt and depression all over his body. Again, SPLIT is not for the faint of heart!!
Andy Stewart’s third short film, which concludes his Body Horror Trilogy, is his most ambitious to date. INK is his longest short film (coming in at 20 minutes), his goriest short, and has the biggest cast (seven actors). This short involves a man (Sam Hayman) who really loves tattoos. He loves them so much that he wants to turn his body into a work of art. But he’s not very patient and he doesn’t have a lot of money to spend so he comes up with his own method of acquiring many tattoos in a short amount of time. Let’s just say that when he tells you he’s wearing a sleeve tattoo, he’s really wearing a sleeve tattoo!! I absolutely loved INK and it’s definitely one of my top two shorts of the year. When I reflect back on 2014 I’ll fondly remember it as the year I became acquainted with Andy Stewart and his short films.
SHE, written and directed by Chelsey Burdon and Mark Vessey, really took me by surprise. When filmmakers submit short films to me it’s always accompanied with a description of the short and some commentary by the filmmakers promising their short is gory and disturbing. They all say that but very few deliver. Burdon and Vessey, though, deliver in spades!! SHE is the story of an emotionally and physically abused housewife who reaches the end of her rope. Fiona Dourif, “Casey” in TRUE BLOOD, does an absolutely amazing job as the frail woman, known in the short simply as “She,” who slowly finds her strength. The ending is shocking and had me squirming in my seat.
SNAKE WITH A HUMAN TAIL (2014)
If the title of this short film, written and directed by Spencer Gray, doesn’t pique your interest, nothing will!! Since hearing about this short earlier in the year I had high expectations for it. It stars Marv Blauvelt and Sheri Davis and is about a person who goes through the ultimate identity change in order to take revenge against the man responsible for repeatedly sexually abusing them. Don’t read anything about this one, not even their IMDb page (which in my opinion gives away too much). It’s got a great twist at the end. The short is well acted, well written, beautifully shot (by cinematographer Anthony Gutierrez), and gets very dark and disturbing. What more can you ask for in a short film?? SNAKE WITH A HUMAN TAIL is still making the rounds and kicking ass on the film festival circuit but I’ll let you all know when it’s available to watch.
SUPER ZERO (2014)
Aahhh the zombie short. Over done, out played, and most zombie shorts follow the exact same formula. That’s why I love SUPER ZERO!! This is indeed a zombie short but it doesn’t follow the same, tired pattern. SUPER ZERO focuses on Josh (Umberto Celisano), the titular ‘zero,’ who is diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. Shortly after this diagnosis a satellite falls to earth unleashing a deadly virus that turns everyone into flesh eating, fast running, deadly zombies. But Josh’s unique condition gives him a leg up against the zombies. Oh yeah … Josh is also a brilliant engineer who can make elaborate weapons out of everyday things. This just doesn’t make him the most important human in the world, it makes him “Super Zero!!” This short is a ton of fun, is well acted, and has the perfect balance of comedy and horror. You can watch SUPER ZERO in it’s entirety below. Rumor has it that writer-director Mitchell L. Cohen is developing a feature-length version of SUPER ZERO.
THE MATCHMAKER (2013)
What do you get when you take a shy mortician (Matthew Lucas) who’s in love with his sexy assistant (Sarah Taurchini) but is paralyzed by his shyness and fear of getting rejected so he just pines away for her affection? If you’re lucky enough to live in the world of indie horror filmmaker Lonnie Martin, then you might be lucky enough to have a matchmaker intervene and help you out. In this case the matchmaker is the corpse (Cindy Marie Martin) Lucas is working on!! This short isn’t made to be scary, creepy, or gory. This is a short film about love, life, relationships, and not wasting your time over petty fears. The writing and acting is spot on in THE MATCHMAKER and this one is sure to make you smile and feel good. This isn’t the usual kind of short film I rave about but THE MATCHMAKER hits all the right notes.
BERENICE is a modern update on the classic Edgar Allan Poe short story about death and obsession. Jeremiah Kipp adapted the story and directed this short film that gets darker as it progresses. In all his short films Kipp has the ability to capture the beauty within the horrifying and BERENICE is no exception. Berenice (Cheryl Koski) moves in with her cousin and his family. She is very sick and everyone knows she won’t be around much longer. But her cousin Edward (Thomas Mendolia) falls in love with her and obsesses over her teeth, which here represents innocence. The sicker Berenice gets the more Edward’s obsession grows until everything culminates in the disturbing ending. BERENICE is a beautifully shot and acted short film and is one you won’t soon forget. BERENICE can be found in the horror anthology, CREEPERS: HORROR ANTHOLOGY MOVIE VOLUME TWO.
RED LOVE (2014)
I never got the chance to review RED LOVE but that doesn’t mean it’s less fun than any of the above shorts. RED LOVE is your ‘typical’ psychos in love story. Written and directed by James McDougall, RED LOVE is the story about two serial killers who unexpectedly meet and fall in love … and share their hobby with each other. Sam (James Morley) meets Judy (Gillian Wetherald) out in the woods. Sam was intending on killing Judy and vice versa. Once they realize each other’s ‘hobby,’ they consummate their new relationship over a tied up and gagged parking cop (Michael Pez). McDougall gives us a modern-style romance that horror buffs can really related to. Morley and Wetherald put in strong performances and the writing is spot on. You can check out this short film in it’s entirety below.
That’s my list of my favorite short films of 2014. I know a lot of short films came out this year and I probably didn’t even scratch the surface on seeing them all. So let me know in the comment section below what your favorite short films of the year were.