Shorts Round Up of the Week: Art Under Quarantine

It’s the middle of the summer and quarantine is still under way, sadly. We hope you and yours are doing well during these bizarre, frightening times. “Shorts Round Up of the Week” once again goes back to Quarantine, visiting a list of short films of varying genres that were created during quarantine. This scenario allowed a lot of great filmmakers to build genuinely beautiful, fun, and sometimes horrifying cinema, and it’s managed to be a great twist in such unusual circumstances.

For this edition we have some great short films including a documentary, a horror comedy or two, and yes, a zombie flick.

If you’d like to submit your short film for review consideration, submissions are always opened to filmmakers and producers.

Coronapocalypse (2020)
Director/Editor Paul Dean’s Prague based horror film is fantastic and a wonderful commentary about being so lost in our own personal bias’ that it can cloud our judgment on what’s happening before our very eyes. Natalie Golavchenko is Flick69, a woman stuck inside her apartment as a corona virus epidemic has ravaged her city and bred flesh eating zombies. After a heavy night of drinking, she has no choice but venture out for supplies and rely on her online chat community for help through the streets.

Dean is able to film most of the movie before lockdown, allowing for a haunting short where Flick69 walks through empty streets after empty streets in the city, looking for semblance of human contact. As she ventures deeper she begins to realize that maybe her dependence on the internet was in vein and she might be in trouble. “Coronapocalypse” is a spooky, unnerving, and provocative short that uses the circumstances to build an outstanding short that I hope becomes an outstanding horror feature someday.

Desert Quarantine (2020)
Joe Burke’s science fiction horror film made under quarantine is a fantastic short made with immense feature film potential layered with interesting themes and subtle symbolism (our hero’s mask is the American Flag). I’d love to see this film realized in to a big feature with a focus on cabin fever and isolation amidst a virus breeding unusual ravenous monsters. Oliver Cooper stars as a young man in isolation in the middle of the desert struggling with loneliness, anxiety about his family’s health, and is consistently questioning his sanity in the face of this epidemic. When something breaks in to his shelter, he’s forced to confront it head on and fight for survival, while also looking for new motivation to keep going on. Cooper’s performance is top notch and Joe Burke provides direction that’s both beautiful and quite horrifying. I hope we can see more of this world.

Forgetful Bats (2020)
Director and star Nick Wilson’s clever and funny short film serves multiple purposes, which is not something you see often from short horror comedies. While Wilson and his pair of roommates film a very unique tale about a vampire under quarantine in L.A., he also gives us an interesting glimpse in to the pitfalls of Alzheimer’s disease. Paul (director Wilson) awakens in a dark garage and is horrified to discover he’s a vampire. His roommates Tyson and Gail remind him that he’s been a vampire for a long time and is unfortunately suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, prompting memory loss every once in a while. With Paul struggling to figure out his vampirism, he has to deal with isolation with his roommates, as he realizes he can’t hunt as LA is in the middle of quarantine thanks to COVID-19. The collective cast is fantastic and “Forgetful Bats” is a nice twist on the vampire formula. I hope we see more from Wilson down the line.

Hangnail (2020)
Directed by Colin MacDonald and Nicole Barron in a single night during quarantine in their home in Nova Scotia, “Hangnail” is a short but gruesome body horror tale that addresses our worst fears. Nicole Barron plays a woman who, while showering, catches hold of a hangnail. While trying to get it out, it gets worse and worse and blood begins to spew every which way. Filled with great special effects (and a great synth score from Jerry Smith!) and just a cringe inducing premise you’ll have a hard time watching without looking away, “Hangnail” is a dark little treat.

It’s Outside (2020)
All things considered Tim Wilkime and wife Madelyne’s “It’s Outside” is a great horror comedy that addresses what promises to be a popular premise. What if, during the lockdown and social distancing, ghosts decided to start making themselves seen and felt? Tim and Madelyne play a couple spooked by the coronavirus who are visited by a ghost in their front yard. As said ghost lingers, they’re confused on how to ward it off in a time where people can’t leave their homes. “It’s Outside” successfully manages to be spooky and very funny, especially in the couple’s bickering about the ghost, and their meeting with a psychic medium online. “It’s Outside” is a spooky horror tale, and one I had a blast with. I hope we can see more from Tim Wilkime soon.

Mommy (2020)
I think there’s a real benefit to “Mommy” in that it doesn’t explain itself away. There’s almost no explanation for what we see, we just know that when all is said and done it’s fucking horrifying. Played by director Rod Blackhurst’s wife (who chose to remain anonymous for the project), the short centers on a mom who is preparing for dinner one night alone. As she does so, she can’t shake the feeling that she’s being watched from outside her kitchen windows. Beautifully edited, and brilliantly paced, “Mommy” is a surefire spine tingler.

Shadowed (2020)
Hey, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. David F. Sandberg, despite bursting on to Hollywood after his terrifying short film went viral, still loves making great short horror movies with his wife Lotta Losten. When a young woman’s lights go out, she uses a flashlight to find brighten her room. She’s horrified, though, when she discovers something in the shadows that just isn’t right. A companion piece to “Lights Out,” Sandberg pits Losten against another enigmatic monster, and once again, she’s helpless. Sandberg builds another short that implements amazing sound design and work with light and shadows. This is a genuine shocker much like “Lights Out,” and its finale begs for another feature film adaptation from Sandberg. Like with “Lights Out,” I want more.

Shelter in Place (2020)
Matthew Beck’s documentary about anxieties over COVID-19 is raw, it’s heartbreaking and it’s infuriating in its honesty and accuracy. Asking for phone calls from his neighbors to discuss their thoughts on quarantine and the pandemic, Beck captures the usually tough New York City in a state of panic and horror as nothing seems to make much sense anymore. “Shelter in Place” touches a harsh nerve for many, especially those of us here in New York, and Beck is able to grab some illuminating and sad conversations and exchanges from various voices across Claremont, New York City. I strongly recommend “Shelter in Place,” as it’s absolutely compelling.

Squeegee (2020)
Written, directed, edited & produced by Morgan Krantz, “Squeegee” is a hilarious and bizarre romance comedy that focuses on a bored woman sensationalizing the tedium of her life. Lori is a successful businesswoman with a lot of respect and clout. She’s also got a very special appointment with a dare devil, someone who brings out a different person in her. She meets up with the window-washer who comes to clean the skyscraper’s windows. So begins one one of their many silent rendezvous. Implementing fantastic direction, excellent editing and some damn good acting, “Squeegee” is such a fun and weird movie carried by the great turns by Amy Rutherford, and Blair McKenzie, respectively.

Stuck (2020)
One of the many, many, many short films made during lockdown, Maria Leon’s “Stuck” is a short but sweet movie about isolation, fear, and anxiety. Stéphanie Roels is fantastic, (acting from her own home) as a young woman who is awoken by anxiety one night. As she looks out on to the darkness, she begins to think about what lies down the road. Like all of us, she wonders how long this will be, if it’ll ever end, and if life will ever go back to normal. It’s a beautifully made movie with Leon directing from home, while Tom Syryn edits from home. Everything is made by a crew from their own homes, and it amounts to a very relatable and heartbreaking film that ends on a bittersweet note.