L’Ours Noir (The Black Bear) (France) (2015)
Written and directed by Méryl Fortunat-Rossi and Xavier Seron, L’Ours Noir is a film based on a safety pamphlet about black bears in the north of Quebec. A group of hikers go in a forest to explore the land, when they meet a black bear for which they were supposed to learn the rules before going. The film they build is absolutely hilarious and gory, sporting a talented cast with a great sense of timing. The cast is composed mainly of Francois Neycken, Jean-Jacques Rausin, Terence Rion, Catherine Salée, and Jean-Benoit Ugeux who all give great performances in the crazy circumstances they are thrown in. The film also boasts fantastic special effects that fit just right with it. The bear used might be cuddly looking but his attacks are vicious, funny, and bloody. This short is possibly the funniest horror-comedy this reviewer has seen this year and in a long while. It’s absolutely fantastic and must be watched if you get the chance.
Mute (USA) (2016)
In the woods, a madman is holding hikers hostage, hurting them and taking their tongues. While A Color Green’s short looks good, the story is very thin with most of the violence happening off screen. The blood looks good and there’s plenty of it. However, the film doesn’t have much of an impact for some reason that is hard to fully pinpoint. The cast of victims does well in their parts, being scared and hurt. The bad guy, the man keeping them unfortunately feels like he is over-doing it a bit. This creates issues with caring for the story and for the film, however, the victims are good enough to counter balance this and keep the attention. Something feels like it’s missing in this bloody short, keeping it from its full potential.
GEMU (Japan) (2015)
In this Japanese Giant Monster film, a student finally manages to make a move to let his dream girl know he’s interested when something is stalking her and other students. With the help of a teacher in the know, he prepares to fight something he does not know. Shingo Maehata’s film is a decent monster film that starts off looking quite good and unfortunately loses some of its visual quality. Thankfully, when the giant monster shows up, it looks great showing off quality work in building a suitmation monster out of traditional effects and modern techniques. The film has some issues but in the end is a fun ride, a monster film where when the monster finally shows up, it makes fans of the genre and special effects forget these issues and just fall in love with the film.
Earworm (USA) (2016)
A man is afflicted with an annoying earworm as he just cannot get rid of this song in his head. Tara Price’s short works as she puts great work in getting the maddening presence of an earworm just right. Lead actor, and only actor, Ernest Thomas gives a great performance as the afflicted, his earworm pulls the crazy out of him. Teaming up with the writing by Price, her directing, and Thomas’ acting are the images and music. The music by Brian J. Emond and the cinematography by Vincent Valentin, assisted by Robert Krisch’s editing and Cole Jennerson’s visual effects get together to create a visual noise that happens each time the song pops up. This creates an all-around great effect and adds to the audience’s understanding of the lead character’s despair. Earworm is a fun short with a funny and satisfying ending.
Hada (Spain) (2016)
Daniel lost a tooth and prepares for bed with a fear of what’s in the dark as he expects a visit from Hada. In Tony Morales’ short, childhood fears are palpable. The suspense builds up as the child uses his light to explore the dark corners of his room. As he and the audience expect and dread something coming out of the shadows, the suspense, tension, and fear build up and create a very creepy atmosphere. As it becomes expected, the main scare happens still packing quite the punch. The acting by lead child actor is quite good and takes the viewer on this creepy ride with him. Hada boasts a good, thick atmosphere of fear and delivers on the scares. It’s one of those films that actually works and brings good levels of scares, something horror fans who watch many films per year see far too few times in a year.
Z (South Korea) (2015)
Hamin finds himself in an underground hospital after an accident almost killed him. As he deals with amnesia, he meets a woman who helps him. At first. Z is a zombie movie with a socio-economic background that shows what can be done with zombies other than simple kill and/or be infected. Written and directed by Hana Hwang and Dong-Hak Ahn, this short looks very slick and has an interesting story. The acting and effects are good but something is missing and it feels longer than it is as it’s not keeping the attention.
The Brentwood Strangler (USA) (2015)
Maggie is preparing for a date with a man she met only. Meanwhile, the Brentwood Strangler is on the loose killing women in the area. The strangler finds his way to being her date and they hit it off after a rocky start. This holiday horror film by John Fitzpatrick, who wrote and directed, is a well-crafted and funny take on dating in the 21st century and serial killers. The pairing may seem odd but it works. This is due in big part to the two leads Jorddan Ladd and Adam J. Yeend who go all out with their performances. Ladd’s mildly crazy single lady works perfectly against Yeend’s serial killer attempting to fit in. Their chemistry shows through their interactions and brings the film home. The Brentwood Strangler is funny and fun while it entertains. The dating life they show is pretty much on point for characters that are a bit crazy.
Bionic Girl (France) (2015)
In this French musical written and directed by Stephanie Cabdevila, an introvert scientist who wants to avoid the outside world creates a robot version of herself to take on the world for her. With music by Mathieu Alvado and Cabdevila, this film builds a sweet story with catchy tunes. Lead Clémentine Poidatz does great acting against characters that look made of cardboard in an environment also made of cardboard or what looks to be. Her acting shows emotions and sweetness without turning saccharine. Partially animated, the film’s animation by Cabdevila and Eloi Henriod looks great and creates a whimsical environment in which the lead character simply known as La Fille (The Girl) can evolve and find herself. This short is sweet with good music and great work put on the décor and characters. The story with theme of self-discovery and self-confidence is whimsical in a way that feels very French and is refreshing in the current cinematic landscape.