As is now traditional, Horrible Imaginings Film Festival played a boatload of short films as part of their programing this years, all highly curated and of great quality. As those shorts are many and all were good, it was hard to make a selection of some of them. Here are mini-reviews for a selection of those shorts from day 1, Friday.
Nadine (USA) (2018)
Writer/Director Phil Bucci is primarily an editor and here again, he proves himself to be one of the ones to watch for as a writer and director. Following last year’s micro-short Paul’s Bad Day, Bucci is back with another micro-short, Nadine. Here the story is simple but feels like it’s part of something so much bigger. It feels like the story of Nadine, a person enslaved to her home and seemingly husband and who must get herself out, seems like a small part of a longer feature film. A bit like a proof of concept short, but better. Here the writing, directing, and editing all by Bucci are tight and leave a lot to interpretation. The acting from lead Sarah Fletcher is fantastic and the cinematography by Phillip Briggs is stunning both grabbing the viewer’s attention and never letting it go. At only 3 minutes, Nadine makes an impact stronger than many much longer films.TiCK (Canada) (2018)
Ashlea Wessel once again delivers a strong short film with important ideas brought to the screen in a manner that lets the viewer watch along and make up their own minds. Following her 2016 short Ink, she is a strong candidate for best new voice in horror with these two shorts and one more coming soon. TiCK takes a vampire pandemic and uses it to show engrained racism and xenophobia that come part of colonialism, something that will resonate with many. Her take on this hits hard and makes a point of not taking the easy road.
The cast composed of Alison Brooks, Ava Close, Alexander De Jordy, Brooke Debassige, and Tal Zimerman all do great work with their parts, imbuing them with a natural ability to transfer emotions and show the story in ways that connect with the audience in a very strong manner. Wessel’s duties here are not only as a writer and director but also as cinematographer and her way to present her vision is clear with a style that fits the story like a glove. The visuals here let the story talk and the human side of everything, the emotions, comes through beautifully.
The Old Woman Who Hid Her Fear Under the Stairs (UK) (2018)
This short about how fear can control a person and the lack of fear can also be problematic is a beautifully shot, amazingly acted short film from writer/director Faye Jackson who takes this story of an old woman taking her fear and stashing it under the stair to then realize that she may actually need a little fear is a well-told tale of aging, emotions, freedom, and enjoying life. The lead in this short film is nothing short of perfect and stunning in her interpretation. Actress Sara Kestelman does some of the best acting seen in a long time in any film; her take on the character is nuanced and perfectly emotionally connected to the material, to the character, and to the audience. This short film is a perfect example of what can be achieved with a great attention to detail, careful writing and directing, and nuanced, subtle acting.
Echo (UK, Sweden, Italy) (2018)
Writer/director Victor Perez is an experienced and talented visual effects artist who here takes a simple story of a woman waking up in bed and makes it much more complex and compelling by making her reflection in the mirror out of sync with herself. As she soon finds herself following this seeing more oddness, her reactions reflect those of the audience, or is it vice versa? Here Perez takes a short story and makes it a visual delight with a dreamy quality to it while plunging his character into a realm where reality and dream are not completely distinct. Lead actress María Ruiz plays a dual role while still playing only one person and she makes the most out of it, giving a layered, deep, and human performance. Her presence gives the film that extra little bit of reality it needs to be something the viewer can really get lost into. Echo is a masterpiece of visual effects from a master visual artist but also a story that is fascinating to watch unfold.
Entropia (USA) (2018)
From the mind of writer and director Marinah Janello comes a story of an old woman clinging to her youth in every way possible. As she takes on magic and taxidermy to keep her youth and regain some of her lost years, things get a little odd. This odd to aging, youth, and what some will do to retain the latter to fight the former is a fascinating watch. Here the lead character is acted in a way that brings the audience into her potential descent into madness by actress Sissy O’Hara who gives the kind of performance that can make any film something much stronger.
Her performance is everything here as she is the only person on screen and she goes for broke throughout the run time. She’s amazing to watch and someone that can easily carry a film all by herself. Pairing the perfect visual style for this story with this performance is cinematographer Amanda McGrady proving that images matter and how a story is shot can really make a difference. Her work here gives the film a vintage feel which works and adds to everything happening on the screen. Entropia is a short film that is perfectly short and tells its story in a manner that is purely its own. From what is shown here, Janello is a talent to watch for and someone to hope for a feature from in the near future.
Grey Canyon (USA) (2018)
Zeshaan Younus’s film (writer, director) shows a great understanding and grasp of what makes a film suspenseful and effective. The story here is of a couple that stumbles on a car stopped on the side of the road and decides to investigate only encounter something they do not fully understand. The film here is one of those that works on subtle levels as well as what is directly in the viewer’s sight. It’s both direct and indirect, effectively building towards its ending. The cast led by Megan Sheetz and Michael Drace Fountain does work with the story in a manner that keeps some mysteries close to the vest with Sheetz and Fountain giving great performances that pull the viewer in. The look of the film is something that must be mentioned as it is very visually appealing and keeps the eye wandering to other spots besides the leads. Nick Ramsey’s cinematography makes the most of this and of the location which looks eerie and like something might just be up besides a simple car break down.