Locals Only: Shorts by Brooklyn Filmmakers [Brooklyn Horror Film Festival 2016]

locals-only-wanderingStitched (2016)
A woman has a visit from her sister after their mother has passed away.  As her sister listens, she unloads and unleashes on her.  Written and directed by Heather Taylor, Stitched shows how the death of a loved one can affect someone about to snap.  This short (4minutes) short shows how to have a good impact by keeping things short and simple.  The sisters played by Jen L. Burry and Deborah Green both do well while giving a bit of extra emotions to their parts, which fits with the short for the most part.

The special effects done by artist Marissa Masella, only seen in one short sequence, show talent and that the filmmaker has a wicked sense of humor.  While the film works, the lead part may be a bit too crazy too soon, leading to the viewer expecting the ending, which is a nice surprise, nonetheless.

Chambers (USA) (2016)
A group of five strangers are held captive in what looks to be a basement.  They are given a gun and one bullet to play Russian Roulette.  5 strangers, 6 chambers, 1 bullet.  Written by Cory C. Maffucci who co-directed with Josh Haslup, Chambers is a thriller that creates tension as the captives argue over who goes first, who must go twice, etc.  As they discuss things and take turns, their situation shows its stress and their worry takes over.  These characters are written to react like most people would in this situation.  The cast here does well and their characters show good emotions and issues as they go through their ordeal.  Chambers is a tight short thriller that ends as one would expect but also without a full resolution.

Last Stop Coney Island (USA) (2016)
An android heads home from university as she is forced to reconcile her place in society as well as deal with the difference between herself and humans.  Written by A.K. Espada who directed with Alessandro Santoro, together they create a future where androids live amongst people most unnoticed.  This android is played as human as can be by A.K. Espada who givces her emotions and worries as most humans have.  She plays the character in a way that if not told, the viewer would not know what she is.  The film not only has an interesting story but also an interesting look and sound.

With cinematography by Daniel Ayzenmesser, the film foes back and forth between black and white images and color images, creating an effect where perhaps the viewer can look at the situation from the outside and from the inside.  Also adding to the atmosphere and mildly futuristic feel is the score by Travis Bozeman that is most drums, creating a sound that is simple and effective.  Last Stop Coney Island is a short that indirectly asks questions such as: What makes one human? What defines one’s worth?  It also does not spell out the answers or indicate how one should feel about what transpires on screen.

Wandering (USA) (2016)
As they get ready to move, a teen goes into the woods where her younger brother has to go look for her.  As he does so, he lets his imagination run free.  Director Dylan Kaplowitz builds his short almost entirely on the power of imagination.  This short starts off a bit slow but once the imagined characters show up, it becomes more interesting.  The design of these characters is fairly simple, with one looking a bit goofy, but who are we to judge what works and what does not in a child’s mind.  The acting by the child is good and it is as well by the imagined characters.  The power of Wandering is in its message that imagination can help you through things that may not be all that great and empower you.  The power of imagination is a good thing that children should be allowed to explore and who knows, they may become great storytellers someday.

E.T.A. (USA) (2016)
Following the teachings of their spiritual leader, a family prepares for the end of days, for the rapture.  Written and directed by William Nawrocki III, this short explores how people can be led into doing almost anything when they want to believe.  The cast, composed of Lori Katz as the mother, Tony Riha as the father, and Zoe Blum and Jeremy Kleckner as the kids, does well as all give somber, resigned performances.  This short has a specific, rather cold look which is supported by the cinematography by Rob Silcox.  This short makes the end of days, or whatever it is, looks almost clinical.  The real horror here is not in the actions or the situation itself but more in how easily some people can be led to believe anything and manipulated into doing things without asking questions.  The start to this one will piss some people off.

The Toothbrush (USA)
A man living alone receives a mysterious electric toothbrush by special delivery.  As he’s attached to his basic manual toothbrush, he sets this new one aside.  That is a mistake.  In director David Otte’s short, lead and sole actor Jeff Prewitt does battle with what could be a ridiculous enemy, however the way that Otte puts the film together makes it a fun horror/comedy/thriller.  This short has funny moment, some tense ones, and is entertaining as a whole.  This one is a bit of a ridiculous idea to start with but the way it’s developer, acted, and shot makes it work.

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