Head Trip: Alternative Shorts [Brooklyn Horror Film Festival 2016]

headtrip-shortyShorty (USA) (2016)
A being that is definitely not human wants to be one but needs to kill humans to feed on them in a manner that is different than the usual in horror movies.  As she longs to belong, she meets a man who may be more than sustenance.  Writer/director Anna Zlokovic creates a lead character whose origins are unclear but who the audience can care about.  The film explores visions/dreams the lead has as well as her life as she tries to survive, something relatable whether she is human or not.  This is shot in a manner where some of the scenes have overlaid images on top of basic scenes happening which gives the film a rather striking look.

This paired with the cinematography by Madeline Berger creates an effect that gives the viewer an insight into this being’s life.  This potential alien or other life form is known as Lara and played by Mary Loveless who imbues her with a certain humanity and vulnerability.  As she has the bulk of the scenes, her performance dictates the film’s feel and how the viewer sees the whole thing.  The overlaid imagery and the music chosen for the film add to this feeling and create an agreeable whole.  Shorty is an oddly beautiful short with strong, almost calming at times, visuals.

Eveless (USA) (2016)
In a dystopian future, women have seemingly disappeared from the human race, taking the possibility to have children naturally with them.  Two men take it upon themselves to procreate and have the first baby girl in a long time.  This short written by Dolores Diaz and Antonio Padovan and directed by Padovan picks up this story as the baby is about to be born and its sex found out.  The glimpse given into this dystopian future is interesting for how it handles the situation these two men are in.  They are played by Vin Kridakorn as the man doing the experimentation and Greg Engbrecht as the man being experimented on.  The two of them give good performances with Engbrecht being a bit more emotional.  The film has effects by Anthony DiFolco that look better up-close than they do in the further away, more encompassing shorts.  Eveless gives a glimpse of a dark future without women and process that life will find a way.

The Push (USA) (2016)
A young professional woman takes the NYC subway every day.  One night, she witnesses a man pushing another onto the tracks.  This act and its consequences haunt her as she attempts to go about her everyday life as normal.  This short about the horrors of life and the trauma they cause is written by Jonathan P. Foster and directed by William Joines with a great performance by lead Trieste Kelly Dunn who shows the effects of trauma and related stress on a person quite well.  Also needing to be noted is the beautifully somber cinematography by Zoe White who shows New York City and its subway as a darker and darker place as the film advances and the lead shows more and more damage from what she has witnessed.  The Push is a somber look at what trauma can create, at the stress and consequences to witnessing life’s horrors.

Venefica (USA) (2016)
A young witch has taken a hostage as she prepares for a very important ritual.  As the ritual gets closer, she stresses over it and her hostage worries for his safety.  Written, directed, and starring Maria Wilson, the film builds the pre-ritual and part of the ritual that lead character Penelope goes through quite nicely.  What really sells the film, its story, is Wilson as Penelope.  She shows genuine interest in what she’s doing with even a bit of glee at times.  In the only other role, Will Harrison plays a good, freaked out, afraid for his life hostage.  Venefica does not have much in terms of special effects or scares, but it’s got a good lead who is using witchcraft to unknown ends.  The reasons for what she is doing are unclear but the film still works.

Empty Bed (USA) (2016)
After putting her son to bed, a woman goes to check on him only to find an empty bed.  As she looks for him, she, and the audience, is in for a surprise.  Directed by Brandt Shandera who wrote it with Christopher Stanton, Empty Bed is an interesting short that has a good surprise in store for the audience that does not feel forced.  This surprise is well done and not fully explained which is definitely a good thing, as it lets the viewer make up their own mind.  The writing and directing allow this to work well while the acting by Hannah Beck as the mom and Julien Maki as the son add the right amounts of care, worry, and surprise.  Empty Bed is one of those shorts that works because of its writing, directing, acting, and because not everything is explained.

Brooklyn Horror Film Festival had its first edition from October 14th through October 16th, 2016.