Latched (Canada) (2017)
While on a creative retreat at a cabin, a choreographer and her young child awaken a woodland being. In this short by Justin Harding, things take a very odd turn near the end and the beast-in-the-woods/child-in-danger typical scenario gets a major twist that is much appreciated and honestly completely weird in the best of ways. This short is all about the beast in a way as it all builds up to seeing it and its interactions with the mother and child. The actor for the beast is Jarrett Siddall who does fantastic work in how he carries himself and his character, his movements creating a beast that feels realistic while being otherworldly.
The makeup on this creature is amazing; the work by Rhonda Causton and Kyle Doust creates this being and gives it its own look, a look that works with the location it is from and its actions. The creature here is everything. It makes the film when it finally shows up and makes the whole short so much better when it was already a good family-type drama. Latched is a creature feature with a softer side for the first part and with its conclusion. It’s a film that holds surprises even for the most savvy horror fans.
Baghead (UK) (2017)
A man goes to a pub and gets taken to the backroom for a very particular reason; there he is to pay a man to get to speak with a woman whose head is covered by a bag. Her presence and what she is able to do is why the man is here, he wants to know information that only the other side can give him and she is the only one who can help. This short is a “fun on the darkside” one where the ride is surprising and the outcome/ending are perfect for its story and lead character. There are a couple of turns that are unexpected and the film makes sure to give those with a darker sense of humor something to laugh at, or at least smile at.
This is one where the main subject is not necessarily what the focus of the film is at first and that leads to the viewer having a decent surprise at the end. The writing by Lorcan Reilly and directing by Alberto Corredor bring this story together in a cohesive and tight manner, giving the film just the right pace and runtime. The cast is small and effective with performances Oliver Walker and Pat Boothman coming to the top in terms of best performances. Another highlight here is the effects makeup by Alexandra Knights who does great work throughout the film. Baghead is an interesting take on its subject and best to be gone into with as little information as possible.
Cat Box (USA) (2017)
A man hired to catsit lets his curiosity get the best of him and he must investigate the mysteries of the house and a very specific key. Of course, he gets more than he bargained for. This short is effective because of its mystery and thus, the story should not be discussed any further. Writer/director Kris Kristensen creates a short that works well as long as it’s shrouded in the unknown. Viewers not having a clue where it’s going will appreciate the ultimate twist at the end of the film as well as the build-up to it. The film’s lead is played by Conner B. Neddersen who gives his character a natural curiosity and reactions that feel right when put in context of the story. Cat Box is one of those shorts that work partially because of their short run time and partially because of the performances, mainly from Conner B. Neddersen. The short is a fun little ride with a good, surprise ending.
Future Self (USA) (2018)
A man is in love with a woman who has no clue. As he keeps finding vhs tapes in free mini-libraries, he starts to get ideas of how to get her to notice him. In this short by Sean Christopher Lewis, things are kept somewhat simple in that the story is not about special effects or major twists and turns, but about what is seen on the screen and what the viewer makes of everything showing up in front of them. The film also stars Sean Christopher Lewis as Jeffrey and Angela Billman is his co-star and the object of his character’s affection, Teegan. Here the back and forth and the ultimate resolution of the film make the entire process an interesting watch. The film works great in the short format and gives the viewer just enough of an insight into the story unfolding to keep some mysteries all the way through.
Portrait(s) (UK) (2018)
A young man, Georgie, cares a lot about what his mother thinks, letting her opinions rule his life until he meets a woman who he must bring home to mother for approval to be able to let himself be happy. That is much easier said than done and the way things go shows exactly why Georgie may be an odd one. Written by Jérôme Bardon and directed by Jonathan Zaurin, Portrait(s) has a creepy little something about it from the start and it builds up more and more as the story advances, this all leading to a satisfyingly weird ending. The short is effective on many levels including story and directing, but none of it would have been this good without lead actor Michael Coombes as Georgie who does fantastic work as the socially awkward, possibly inept, young man living in the shadow of his mother’s expectations. There is something about him that reminds of a sort of British Norman Bates in both how Georgie is written and how Coombes interprets him for the screen. Portrait(s) has a real creepy factor hiding behind its doily-ed façade and all the best intentions in the world.