The Phantom Hour (USA) (2016)
A group of people is called to a mysterious castle for various reasons and odd happenings abound. Written and directed by Brian Patrick Butler, this short pokes fun at vampire tropes with a classic dinner invitation set-up and a touch of modernity. Butler’s character of Bryce shows his sense of timing and his humor, being a perfectly awkward and funny assistant or Renfield to Nikolai. The actor playing this vampire, Luke Anthony Pensabene, is nicely impressive while not entirely scary which works in this setting. The film is really funny and goes for it, holding no punches, its old school, classic horror look ads to its fun with its credits in front of the film and nice cardboard décor in some parts. It’s campy, it’s funny, it’s a bit ridiculous, and mainly it’s a lovely horror comedy short, a difficult sub-genre to work in.
Zombie Playground: Ice Scream (UK) (2016)
In the countryside, two friends playing hookie run across zombies. As they run away, it becomes clear that the area is infested. Director Jason Wright, whose original story Jeremy Hill’s screenplay is based on, creates a good zombie short which is no easy feat in the era of zombie oversaturation. The short is quick paced and the kid zombies are good at zombie-ing. The special effects by Asta Gostautaite, Roxy Ley, Jessica McAllister, Nicola Richardson, Norna Squires, and Claire White work with a fun last reveal. The gross teddy bear brings you in and that last reveal happily closes the film.
First Like (Sweden) (2016)
A girl is sending/posting selfies after getting home. As her likes accumulates, something shows up in the background of her photos. This short directed by Alexander Ronnberg, written by Sara Bergmark Elfgren, and starring Hedda Stiernstedt, Deniel di Grado, and Karl Johnsson builds tension fast and creates very effective jump scares. Its short runtime allows for a concise storytelling style and for its impart to happen faster. The special effects by Love Larson look great on screen, the setting (mostly) in one apartment creates a closed-in atmosphere, something the lead cannot run easily from. The scares might be jump scares but they work here and paired with the atmosphere created they lead to a result that is truly creepy.
Watchbear (USA) (2016)
This student film (yes, student film) by writer/director Cesar Saldana tells the story of a young boy and his protective Ted E. Bear who will stop at nothing to protect his person from the monster in the closet (or the one under the bed). The young boy is played by Chance Caeden who gives a great scared performance. The bear is played by Ruben Padilla who brings a badass/offensive side to the old school stuffed animal. The way he plays the part makes the film as his timing and delivery are great while also being rather inappropriate. The score on this short is good and well paired and the way it’s shot looks as good if not better than a lot of professionally shot shorts. This one is fun, offensive, basically it’s awesome.
#MurderSelfie (UK) (2015)
In this self-obsessed society, it only makes sense to have more than one horror short about selfies. In this one, a couple spending the night in runs afoul of home invaders and selfies the whole ordeal as if they were hanging out and doing anything else. The reactions of their public are very telling of today’s social media atmosphere. This short written and directed by Tobias Tobbell is funny as we all know people obsessed with sharing every moment of their lives with their social audience. The horror elements are a bit absurd but work in the horror-comedy put forth here. The effects by James Blakemore-Hoy are ok but unfortunately not great, they are uneven and that can take the viewer out of the story. The film’s pace and humor do make up for this and paired with good old narcissism from the leads played with aplomb by Nikki Runeckles and Karl Hughes, it makes it worth tracking down.
Hello (US) (2016)
A ghost stuck in a hotel room develops an interest in the man renting it for the night. As she sweetly attempts to catch his attention, the viewer feels for her lonely plight. As she goes a bit more strongly in her attempts, the short becomes funny and finds its tone. This one room story directed by Christina Raia works with its sweet and funny lead who turns on the charm and communicated aptly without ever uttering a word. The man reacts in a natural way giving this ghost story footing in reality. Their interactions or more their existence in the same room works well and the short is effective. The film has minimal effects, but is there works.
Part Two Tomorrow!