The short film festival HollyShorts took place in Hollywood August 11th to 20th, 2016. It showcased a ton–yes a ton–of short films from the US and around the world. Here are short reviews of some of these bite-sized films.
John the Carpenter (USA) (2015)
In this revenge tale written and directed by Matt Braunsdorf, a brother and sister get in an accdent in the woods. After a beast kills the sister, her brother decides to take revenge and exterminate the beast himself. The film is fun and boasts good performances by all three cast members: Mali MacConnell as the sister, Jared Dymbort as the brother, and Thomas Beucler as the wood beast. This beast looks great thanks to effects by Steve Saturn. His special effects paired with Craig Shaloiko’s digital effects look great. The CGI fire was not the best, but given it’s one of the most difficult effects to achieve, it’s quite forgivable. John the Carpenter is a fun horror romp with great synth wave music.
King Ripple (USA) (2015)
This short about a man who can wish things and people away starts very surreal and then becomes a bit run of mill with teenagers investigating then it ends with a beautiful sequence worth seeing. Director Luke Jaden co-wrote with Cort Johns based on an original story by Josh Malerman. Some of the aspects that make King Ripple what it is are the cinematography by Joel C. Warren, the music by Tomo Milicevic and Moors, and the visual effects (for which credits could not be found online). The cast is decent with two performances coming on top: Callahan Belle as Valerie and Alexandria DeBerry as Sonata. The narration by Ed Kelly also adds a lot, creating a storybook feel for the film. King Ripple is about power over others and the power of imagination.
Cuddle Party (USA) (2016)
Cuddle therapy as a replacement for couple’s therapy. A couple on the brink of explosion tries cuddle therapy as a last resort to save their marriage. The constant arguing and confrontation they bring to the group creates a lot of negativity towards them while they try to work out their differences. Writer/director Matthew Irving Epstein takes this comedy and builds a good looking short filled with despicable people. None of the characters come off as likable while the leads are flat-out grating, making it difficult to care about them or their arcs. The performances by the leads Michaela Watkins, Rob Huebel, and Yvette Nicole Brown do well with the characters they are given, showing these characters true colors. This short is more for viewers wanting to see people be miserable than for fans of comedies.
Black Canaries (USA) (2015)
This period piece by writer/director Jesse Kreitzer shows the hardships of coal-mining on one man whose family members were crippled by it. The man keeps a rather chipper canary that contrasts with all the darkness in the film. This film looks absolutely stunning, like a series of old colorized photos with their colors a bit darkened and showing the hard life of coal-miners. This beautiful look is created by talented director of photography Daniel Cojanu. The cast led by Patrick Towne who shows nuanced emotions, never putting too much and always hitting the right notes. Black Canaries is a touching, dark, human story with great performances, stunning photography, and great attention to details.
Disco Inferno (Spain) (2015)
Disco Inferno starts like a Hammer-esque witchcraft movie, then it takes a nice turn into WTF territory. This stark contrast black and white film that starts up silent, then goes musical is fascinating too look at. Writer/director Alice Waddington builds an entertaining little romp through a world where a minion from hell roams the Earth to save her boss. The film is trippy, dark, and charming, fun not for the whole family.
Bear Story (Chile) (2014)
On the other end of the story and style spectrum from Disco Inferno is the sweet, sad, and beautiful Bear Story. The story is of a bear who tries to sooth his soul by building an elaborate music box of his wife, his child, and himself together. Director Gabriel Osorio Vargas co-wrote with Daniel Castro this story that is his homage to his own grandfather who had to live in exile. The animation is stunning, done in a beautiful manner reminiscent of older films. Everything in this film from the story, to animation, to music is carefully planned and executed. Bear Story is possibly the most beautiful movie this reviewer has seen in a long time.
Part Two Tomorrow!