Mona (Kosovo) (2016)
This interpretive dance short by Lorena Sopi is a beautiful haunting piece about a dance reflecting on life and the accident that changed it. This short has fantastic, dreamy lighting and makes good use of Christmas lights and snow fall. The acting is soft and appropriate while the dancing is fascinating to watch.
Summoned (USA) (2016)
In writer/director Victoria Angell’s short; an abused teenager summons an evil supernatural entity to help her stop it. Once in her world, the entity goes rogue and much beyond what the teen had intended for it. The film deals, in its short time, with themes of abuse, revenge, and regret. The acting is good by lead Casey Beattie and the music by Adam Fulton is decent. Unfortunately, the evil being’s voice is not effective or scary, thus taking some of the film’s effectiveness away. Still, the film has a nicely creepy atmosphere and has a few nasty surprises in store that make it worth a watch or two.
Witchboard (USA) (2015)
In this short film by Isaac Rodriguez, the leads use a witchboard to dire consequences. The acting here works with music that goes with the action on screen well but is however a bit generic which is unfortunate as great music could have added even more atmosphere and creepiness to a film that is already dealing with these quite well. The film is still an effective piece of short creepy cinema and a strong reminder to be careful what you wish for.
The Birthday (USA) (2015)
Berkeley, 1974, a young couple go to the woods for a bit of romance and to take photos. When the man takes drugs and subsequently hallucinates, things take a turn for the weird for his pregnant wife and him. Writer Ian Hock and director Brenna Malloy create a nicely mid-1970s short with characters, costumes, settings, and story that are all right at home in the 70s. Their homage to the decade and its films does not stop there as the exposure, lighting, and faux damage to the film all hark back to the era and its cinematographic offerings. The acting from both leads is good and the masked people are appropriately creepy. The cinematography by Nick Ramsey and the music add the right amount of 70s horror goodness to connect with the decade without turning the film into a pastiche or bad homage.
Japanese Legends: Slit (Japan) (2016)
The first in a series by writer/director Pablo Absento, Slit is set in current day Japan and follows a Japanese Legend played by Absento herself. She crafts an interesting story and take on a classic. Viewers do nto need to have a great knowledge of the legend, however this short is enjoyable for both fans and non-fans of classic Japanese horror tales. Absento’s writing, directing, and acting as the lead work quite well here and makes the viewer want to see more. The film takes its time to develop before giving its payoff and looks beautiful while doing so with well thought out shots and great locations. The theme song by Eric Elick is atmospheric and fitting for this developing series. Slit is a great start to the Japanese Legends series.
Insomnolence (Australia) (2015)
A grieving man has been having difficulty sleeping since his wife passed away. As his sleep deprived state aggravates, her hair starts haunting him, showing up in all kinds of places. This mixes with the odd dreams he gets when he does sleep to slowly chip away at his sanity. This short written and directed by Kiefer Findlow is a very slow burn that takes the time to build its lead and his grief before turning up the creep factor. This lead is interpreted by Christopher Whelan who gives him layers of grief, sadness, depression, and exhaustion. Through him, his character feels and makes the viewer feel with and for him. The effects by Ali Knapton are minimal, but definitely work in this more psychological than straight up horror short. The cinematography by Roderick Findlow along with the art direction by Joanna House gives the film a very specific and darkly soft look which adds to the feeling of loss that emanates from the lead. Insomnolence is a short that feels somber and heavy, an appropriate film about loss and ghosts of the past.