Cinepocalypse 2019 Shorts Block 2: Sex, Blood, and Heavy Metal [Cinepocalypse 2019]

This year I covered Cinepocalypse’s second shorts block, and for this round the topics included Sex, Blood, and Heavy Metal. Not all of the movies are horror here, nor are they particularly scary, but they’re an interesting variety for the festival.

BudFoot (2019)
Tim Reis and James Sizemore’s short is a weird, wonky, and mind bending bit of horror and comedy exploring the lunacy of creation and the battle of the mind to topple the creative block. The film stars “Last Podcast On The Left’s” Henry Zebrowski and Bay Area legend Skinner and intercuts some damn good special effects. The message is somewhat cryptic, but that’s more than compensated for by the interesting CGI and its somewhat unique message. Shane Morton’s effects are downright memorable, and while “Bud Foot” wasn’t a home run, I admired the inventiveness.

Critical Hit! (2018)
Taking a jab at the Pokemon craze, Briac Ragot imagines a world where Pokemon cosplayers are kidnapped and literally forced to fight to the death in a ring as pokemon. Briac Ragot’s short film is very brisk and to the point as a young cosplayer dressed as Pikachu to promote a convention is kidnapped by a pair of teens, both of whom tase her. She awakens to find she’s being held in a room filled with frightened Pokemon players and can’t leave unless she fights to the death as Pikachu. Weird, and mostly experimental, “Critical Hit!” doesn’t have much a point beyond a warped idea of very popular hobby. It’s a fine short with some solid direction from Ragot,

Killer of Killers (2019)
I guess you can call director Don Swaynos’s “Killer of Killers” a short film, but it’s more of a music video when all is said and done. At four minutes, “Killer of Killers” is set against concert footage with the fairly basic story of a kid trying to outrun a serial killer that murders his family during a barbecue. The movie is meant to look like cheap SOV fodder, and while that aesthetic is nice to look at, the whole experience is hit or miss. I wouldn’t watch it again.

The Only Thing I Love More Than You Is Ranch Dressing (2019)
Sydney Clara Brafman’s is only a minute long and doesn’t have much of a premise or a point. I was surprised by how short it was, as it literally begins and ends before you can settle in. The basic premise is a young girl sharing a bowl of wings with her boyfriend, and she’s so obsessed with ranch dressing she begins eating her boyfriend. I guess there’s a commentary behind this, but damned if I could find it. It’s straight to the points sans—you know—a point.

Road Trash (2019)
Natasha Pascetta’s short is one I reviewed for the Final Girls Berlin Film Festival earlier this year, and it’s an okay horror flick about the road to hell being paved with good intentions. Narrated by Heather Langenkamp, “Road Trash” surrounds Alice, a young girl who makes a habit of scooping up road kill of poor animals. After finding a mysterious skeleton on the road, it is resurrected as a werewolf, and begins stalking her around town. “Road Trash” is a demented bit of horror fare with an interesting twist and good monster effects.

Starlets (2018)
Marten Carlson’s “Starlets” is a very good horror thriller with a strong metaphor about feeding off of talent, and vice versa. Biggs Thomilson arrives at the home of the famous Lentz triplets one night and is anxious to get them to renew their contract. With their mother watching over them, and clinging to her past as a star, Biggs decides to stay behind at the house and investigate why the Lentz triplets are nowhere to be found. “Starlets” didn’t go where I thought it would and I loved the final scene, which indicated a lot of twisted notions about Hollywood, fame, and how sometimes ignorance is pure bliss. I love Carlson’s photography and direction, matched with the stark black and whites making this feel like an episode of “The Twilight Zone.”

Switch (2018)
Marion Renard’s “Switch” isn’t a horror movie, but an interesting statement about self realization and sexual fluidity. I’m disappointed that there isn’t more of a horror element here but it does dabble a bit in body horror by the time the middle of the short comes along. Filled with great direction, and nearly seamless editing, Renard’s tale of sex, and exploration is bold, especially how she doesn’t shy away from up front nudity and the inherent journey ot discovering one’s own body in the wake of sexual contact.

Teacher’s Lounge (2019)
Josh Mruz’s “Teacher’s Lounge” is a well realized ode to HP Lovecraft and Larry Cohen. I loved the whole idea of a cult of teachers operating with the help of a mind melding monster that burrows in to their brain and think this has a ton of potential. With a new series of teachers making themselves comfortable in the teacher’s lounge for a new school year, they’re all knocked out and awaken to learn they’re a part of a ritual. With the command of a burrowing monster, they’re forced to serve among a cult of teachers, all of whom seek knowledge. Filled with some neat imagery, great puppetry, and solid performances, I have to say I enjoyed this a great deal.

The Third Hand (2019)
Director Yoni Weisberg’s mystery is a weird, bizarre and kind of flat look at a man who finds a way to duplicate everything he likes and perfect what he considers a flaw. Centered on an office drone struggling to get a candy bar out of a vending machine, he finds a weird Xerox machine that can duplicate just about everything and anything. “The Third Hand” is basically about wish fulfillment and being careful what you wish for. While it’s not at all creepy or scary, it is a classic dilemma about greed and being wary of something that is too good to be true.

Cinepocalypse 2019 runs from June 13th until June 20th.