Happy Halloween one and all! It’s the final hours of Halloween 2019 and it’s been quite the month. I felt I’d be remiss if I didn’t include another Shorts Round Up of the Week featuring some great horror shorts you can dig your teeth in to before Day of the Dead on November 1st. Included is a tale of a spooky cookie jar, a series of loft crimes that goes bat shit insane, and a serial killer targeting vulnerable young girls.
As always if you’d like to submit a short film or two (of any genre), submissions are always open!
Christopher T. Wood’s “Don’t Turn Around” is a short but sweet little chiller that shows how fear can be our own worst enemy. Also, karma is a bitch, ain’t she? The owner of a loft delights in turning away a woman in his building after she complains about his consistent loud viewings of horror movies. He gradually grows paranoid about a spree of violent loft break ins around the city. Challenging himself to a fright, he invites danger to his loft, and before he realizes it, terror becomes his worst enemy. “Don’t Turn Around” is a lot of fun and filled with some great tension and wicked suspense. I also loved the final scene, which felt like the closing stinger to an EC Comic.
Presented by ALTER, Justin Harding’s tale of a cookie obsessed little girl is darkly demented, and creepy as all hell and I kind of loved it. Bree, a dishonest 9-year-old who loves stealing cookies from the cookie jar, is horrified when her mother replaces the cookie jar with that of a creepy clown’s head. Warning her of dire consequences if she steals cookies, Bree nevertheless continues stealing from the jar. Before long, Bree is experiencing horrifying nightmares of the Kookie Clown. “Kookie” excels thanks to the great direction, simple story, and top notch editing from Harding that makes “Kookie” a memorable horror tale. Plus, it’s tough to top that final jolt of a scene.
La Noria (2019)
Carlos Baena’s jaw dropping CGI animated film is a bold mix of horror, dark fantasy and drama and opts for a tale that’s absolutely gut wrenching. Focusing on a young boy who loves ferris wheels, he angrily smashes his broken ferris wheel one day in a fit. Before long he realizes he’s being terrorized by monstrous beings that begin consuming his environment and enveloping him in darkness. Before long he has to evade the spiked monsters before he’s taken in by them. But as he’s prepared to give up, he realizes the monsters have ulterior motives. “Ferris Wheels” is ultimately about grief and how it can swallow us if we let it. There’s a lot of exposition told through imagery and pictures of the young boy with his father, and it’s a masterstroke of a short with impressive animation, and a heartbreaking look at how grief and sadness can consume us whole.
Presented by ALTER, filmmaker Chloe Okuno’s horror drama is a word of warning, and an exploration about what some people will do to live up to the perceptions of beauty at their own peril. Set in the 1970’s, Molly McIntyre is excellent as young Maddy, a plain Jane with glasses who is anxious to impress the boys at the roller rink. But her lack of confidence keeps her back. As she draws the attention of a local man who begins boosting her confidence, she’s oblivious that he’s a sociopathic serial killer who delights in murdering young girls. “Slut” is a fantastic horror drama based around misdirection and some overtones about self confidence and inner beauty. “Slut” derives some great tension and stark suspense, along with a finale that’s absolutely intense. I loved this, and I hope we can see more from Okuno and McIntyre very soon.
Elwood Quincy Walker’s horror tale is a classic Halloween spook fest with witches, candy, seances, dumb teenagers, and monsters galore and I loved it. A group of teenagers go to the seance of a haunted house that is said to have a legend involving an old witch that poisoned a trio of trick or treaters. Their spirits are said to still haunt the house, and they hold a seance with a pumpkin that will conjure their spirits as long as the light in the Jack o Lantern stays on. “Trick” is just fun, it’s a great EC Comics style tale with wonderful editing, excellent acting, and a great sense of gore and grue thanks to the work of Ryan Ward and Salina Kyle of “Little Shop of Gore.” I wish people would stop tempting fate.