Movies

Published on April 8th, 2021 | by Richard Gary

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Horror Shorts – April 2021

Richard Gary goes through some recent horror shorts to give you something interesting to watch as we horror nerds wait for Halloween to come around.

After Hours
Directed by Isaac Ruth
Ruthless Stories
8:40 minutes, 2021
Many of us have worked such long hours that we have fallen asleep at our desks (if that is the kind of position had). So, what is a woman to do when it is late at night and you are the only one in the office/building when weird things start happening, like power turning off, doppelgangers popping in and out, and jerking creatures that look to be right out of an Asian ghost story? That is the predicament in which we find our protagonist (Christine Renaud, who has come to some recognition as Darby Double on ”Wandavision”). Someone or something keeps popping up as she frighteningly tries her best to hide from whomever or whatever it is that is invading her space. There is no explanation given as to why this is happening (perhaps a personification of an overwrought work habit?), but hell, it is a short, so exposition is not a necessary factor; long enough to keep the thrill going, and short enough not to wear out its welcome. It’s a chilling tale, especially for those of us who put in long hours. Good, clean, spooky-enjoyment with no dialogue.

Boss Bitch Fight Challenge
Directed by Zoë Bell
Zoë Bell YouTube Channel
5:17 minutes, 2020
Zoë Bell is probably the best-known stunt person on the globe today, thanks to her work with Tarantino and on the MCU. And what is a poor stunt person to do during a lockdown? She has brilliantly brought in a whole bunch of her Hollywood and stunt women friends to assault each other via camera in some funny, thrilling, and compelling ways. Each segment is a few seconds long and the subject attacks the camera, which in turn “affects” whomever is next, linking it into a flow, rather than being unconnected bits. Who is in it? Well, here is a small list of a much larger contribution: Lucy Lawless, Scarlett Johansson, Margo Robbie (using a bat, of course), Rosie Perez, Drew Barrymore, Juliette Lewis, Cameron Diaz, Rosario Dawson (doing her infamous down kick), Florence Pugh (from Midsommar, whose piece is hilarious), Daryl Hannah, Thandie Newton, Halle Berry (!), and that’s not even a quarter of the cast. People are thrown into pools, down stairs, flying across the room (on wires), and even have their kids seek revenge. It’s cartoonishly ultraviolent punching, kicking and other means of assault, but it will have you laughing all the way through. Sure, it’s not horror, but I would classify it as action. And it’s non-stop. There are lots of inside jokes, and Zoë even gets to use her “I’m okay” line from Death Proof (2007).

Bump in the Night
Directed by Jonathan Everett
Mad Tabby Films

8:10 minutes, 2021
If you follow any Facebook horror page, you will know there is always a debate on which genre is scarier. That is the lowest denominator of this story. A young wife, Holly (Netty Leach) is fond of true crime. Her husband, Nathan (Jared Carter) believes it is the supernatural. A nice conversation to have, albeit brief, at bedtime. Of course, as the night progresses, events discussed begin to transpire to test the theories in their lives. Both these characters are likeable, which makes the events to occur even more profound (without sinking into morosity). It is well shot in a meat and ‘taters sort of way, and it kept the tension up throughout. Nicely done and a truly fun watch.

The Chrysalis
Directed by Michael Squid
Mr. Michael Squid YouTube Channel
9:21 minutes, 2020
No, this does not have anything to do with the Record Label that put out Blondie’s first and best album. Here, we are introduced to Adam (Aidan Laliberte, who was excellent as the lead in Long Night in a Dead City in 2017), a man who has taken time off of work to help out with his dementia-ladened mother, Wendy (Kathryn G. Howell), who is a retired entomologist. She’s been acting weird beyond the senility. Something is bugging her to the point where she is standing over her sleeping son with a knife at one point. This film shows quite an amount of style and finesse; I love one shot especially, where Adam wants to talk to Wendy, and there is a close-up of her putting down her oatmeal spoon very precisely. This has won numerous awards, and I am certainly not surprised. It is excellent short filmmaking, and deserves what it gets.

Mask
Directed by Jacob Arbittier
Burnt Mill Road
4:45 minutes, 2021
The killer in a clown mask is a trope that has done to death, but Arbittier takes a new look at it that is quite interesting, into the mask itself. I don’t want to give too much away, but in the less-than five minutes we meet the three people in the story, a lot of carnage and supernatural surprises are in store. The SFX looks really decent (not overly bloody, but still unnerving) in a way that makes this a fun and brief watch. I could, however, see this as a prelude to a feature.

Moonlit Requiem
Directed by Arthur S. Edelman
Somnia Films
16:00 minutes, 2020
In the rural UK, Harry (Daniel J. Hickson) is bringing home his new bride, jill (Angharad L. Ford), to meet his family for the first time. His mom, Mary (Deirdre Forrest) is crisp but welcoming, and his dad, John (KC Flanagan) is straight out of the Onslow character from “Keeping Up Appearances” (1990-95). Apparently, Jill picked the wrong time to marry this dude because the universe is aligning for a special pagan ritual (as these cinematic rural Brits are wont to do), and you know it is not going to be favorable towards Jill. I mean, the word Requiem is even in the title, but… So, the obvious connection is to Ready or Not (2019), even though there are big differences here, and you can also link to other influences like Midsommar (2019) and The Wicker Man (1973) for the cult aspect, but this does go in an unexpected direction just when you think you have it nailed. The film is just long enough to get you engaged with the characters without too much exposition, and short enough to perhaps catch the viewer by surprise. It is beautifully shot in a dark, cramped farm house, and you feel for the characters. My one supposition, and I could be wrong, is that the uncredited violin player at the end is a cameo by the director? Anyway, this is a really nice film and well worth the quarter hour.

Somniphobia
Directed by Dillion Vibbart
Silver Hero Entertainments; Ninja Brothers
25:06 minutes, 2021
Poor lovely Ryley Rose (Tatjana Marjanovic). She’s been having nightmares where a ghoul is mistreating her; she even has the bruises in the morning to prove it. But her boyfriend, Brian (Atticus Hinckley) doesn’t believe her, though he is willing to take her to Dr. Brady (Chris Attoh), 12 hours away. The doctor supposedly has the ability to enter dreams and see what’s going on. Problem is, he is retired from the biz. Ryley is desperate, and tries to convince him otherwise. We all know what’s going to happen in that sitch. The film is beautifully laid out, building up to the ending with some splendid SFX make-up by Melanie “MJ” Dubarr throughout. There are a few ”Tales From the Crypt”-like side stories, and in fact this whole episode would fit well into that series. No blood or gore, just good storytelling and a bunch of ghosties and ghoulies to liven (deaden?) it up. This is an excellently done short, and the twist at the end certainly makes it even better.

Sweet Revenge
Directed by Ron Millkie

Scrudato Productions
7:49 minutes, 2019
It is great when an actor, known for a horror role, decides to direct, as did director Ron Millkie, who was Officer Dorf in the original 1980 Friday the 13th. This is his directorial debut, according to IMBD. For this story, we are introduced to milquetoast-iish Luke (Nicholas M. Garafolo), who years before gave testimony that put Jim (Phillip Pitta) in prison. But now Luke has received a phone call from the newly paroled Jim, who is out for revenge. Between semi-caring police and a nosy and bossy landlord looking for rent (Susanna Sudami), nerdy Luke is understandably shaken. Shot in real time, we witness the events that occur to Luke. While Garafolo has a long resume of films, for both Pitta and Sudami, this is their only credit, and it shows. The story is quite basic with a possible jump scare, it is bare bones as far as story and plot, which is fine for a short. I liked that Millkie took it a bit beyond where this would probably normally end, and did a nice editing montage and a short postscript. While it most likely will not win any awards, it is quite enjoyable to watch, and hopefully Millkie will get a chance to push his envelope more.

Tyakt
Directed by Pratik Singh
Do Not Blink and Team
12:09 minutes, 2020
In Hindi, the language of this film, the title means “derelict” (as in duty, or person). A woman (Surbhi Talodia) gets picked up by a travel agency driver (Pratik Singh, who also directed) for a 350K/220 miles trip (I’m guessing to another means of long-distance transportation, though she only has a backpack and a romance novel, “A Cocktail of Love,” by Mayank Sharma). He also picks up another listed passenger, a grumpy older gent (Bubbley Deshbandhu). Apparently, there is a significant short-cut down a deserted road that the woman insists they take to save quite a bit of time. It seems, a young woman was killed there and the story goes that late at night, she kills men in revenge. This is a nice take on the many abuse women are known to take in India (honor killings, “lust,” spurning advances, etc.). The woman is naturally uncomfortable being in the car with these two men, so she wants to get to her destination as fast as possible. Of course, spooky things happen, which are added to for a double whammy. Considering that the whole film takes place in a car, it contained my attention, even with reading captions. There is an indication of a sequel. I hope so.

Your Coffee Drinks You
Directed by Andrew Daugherty
Silver Hero Entertainment
3:10 minutes, 2020
This seems to be based on the old axiom, “You use technology, and then the technology uses you.” For this short, brought to you in the COVID art era by the Daugherty family (cast and crew), we meet an older woman (meant respectfully, Patricia) who is – take a guess – making and having a cup o’ java. But something is definitely off, thanks to some nice SFX work, which made me smile. Even if you somewhat see the ending coming, it’s very satisfying. It seems to me like a new look at an old trope (usually using light and shadow in an apartment), which makes this even more watchable. It is so recommended; I’ll give you only one guess as to what I did after watching it…

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About the Author

grew up watching and enjoying horror films, especially those made independently and on a micro-budget. Most of the movies he reviews play either at festivals or private screenings, rather than having a national theatrical run. Using his years of studying media theory, he looks at each one with a critical eye that goes beyond the superficial, as he believes they deserve the respect of such a viewer’s eye. He is open to receive links to your films at rbf55@msn.com, and he promises to always keep an open mind and be honest.



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