Dogged (UK) (2015)
A young couple is being watched; soon the young man’s life takes a turn for the artsy weird as masked people chase him in this homage to Little Red Riding Hood. Director Richard Roundtree creates, with co-writer Christina Roundtree, a visually interesting short film that is disorienting. The story is unfortunately unclear which leads to being unsure as to the leads’ performances. The cinematography by Christopher Foulser, the editing by Foulser and Lee Wignall, and the music by James Griffiths team up to create a short that is memorable even with its story issues.
Bunker Games (France) (2016)
A young woman is held captive by a man she seems to know. She’s starving as he plays games of Connect Four with her to decide if she gets to have any food. However, not all is as it seems. Writer/director Lionel Compte builds a tense game of Connect Four with good back and forth by his two leads. These leads are played by Justine Thibaudat as the captive and Derek Robin as the captor and they have a good chemistry that works for these parts and helps keep the mysteries well hidden until the time comes to hit the viewers with them. This one is fun, tense; with a character you can care about/relate to.
Cuckold Picasso (USA) (2016)
A man is help captive and severely beaten by his captor. What makes this short film different is that it’s shot in the victim’s point of view. The film shows what he sees, how he sees. It helps the viewer connect with the victim and feel for him, with him. Helping push this point across are the performances by Stephen P. Sweeney as the victim and Micah Fitzgerald as Artemis his captor and tormentor. The two of them play well against each other. Director/writer Lance Larson with writer James R. Adams II create a tight thriller that works well with a brutal subject. The cinematography by Brent Barbano and the editing by Lance Larson add claustrophobia and stress to the story creating a film that is effective and tense.
Burlap (USA) (2016)
Writers Nich Durst and Justin Denton, with Denton directing, create an interesting take on a serial killer as their bad guy has a very specific goal which will not be spoiled here as it only becomes clear at the end. The glimpse into the killer’s life we get to see is when he goes after an unsuspecting babysitter. In the part of Christopher, the killer, James Michael Cowan gives an almost subdued performance through most of the run time. He makes it hard to believe he’s actually as he is. Brooke Maroon gives a lively performance as the sitter fighting him off. The cinematography by Luc Delamare and the lighting create a mood with scenes under-lit/under-exposed just a touch, adding an air of mystery, a particular atmosphere to things.
Night of the Slasher (USA) (2015)
This short about a girl purposefully committing all horror films sins to call a slasher to her house is shot in one, yes just one, continuous shot. The way the story deals with horror film tropes in a humorous and funny way while being a good send-up of those films works great here. Writer/director Shant Hamassian works well with the one-shot film and genre tropes that are often over done with a couple of unfortunate moments where it’s hard to see what is going as the camera moves too much.
However, the rest of the film looks great while making very good use of the house its shot in. The cinematography by Eli Tahan looks good while framing the lead in an enticing and appealing way. This lead is aptly played by Lily Berlina as Jenelle, the heroine. She shows spunk and a knack for putting a spin on the typical slasher victim. In the part of the killer, Adam Lesar has a good physical presence and sense of timing. Night of the Slasher is a fun send-up of its genre with an interesting twist to things.
Little Boy Blue (Australia) (2015)
Based on a story by Will Faulkner and Nathan Keene, written by Faulkner and directed by Keene, Little Boy Blue is beautiful and brutal, stunning and sad at the same time, which is not an easy feat. The film’s story is beautiful, sad, touching; it gets to you and even makes some of the toughest audiences c ry. The film looks amazing, with aerial and establishing shots that just grab you for which the cinematography by Ashley Barron is careful and deliberate. Most of the emotional part of the story happen between two talented, well-directed kid actors Nina Louise as Eva and an unnamed little boy (on IMDB credits at least) as the Little Boy Blue.
Both are sweet, subtle, and incredibly touching. The adults, Jessica King as Eva’s mom, Michael Thomson as her dad, Harry Peek as Mr. Welch the evil neighbor, and Julie-Anne Breen as Dr. Belle all are talented and work well together and with the kids. Little Boy Blue is possibly the most beautiful and poignant short film about the evil humans do and what evil looks like seen at Horrible Imaginings, a visual and emotional hit with so much sadness. It’s depressing but absolutely worth a watch.