Shorts Round Up of the Week: October Terrors, Part II: The Sequel

Halfway through October already? I wish we could have a few more days to revel in the holiday, but alas. With our festivities in full swing, I checked out more short horror films for your Halloween viewing pleasure! Have a safe, fun Halloween, all.

Warning: Some of the reviews include the short films, while others are just the teaser.

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

The Erl King (2019)
There’s so much to completely process with Director Callum Windsor’s “The Erl King” that in the end I felt like it could have stood to add an hour or so more for things to make sense. While healthy ambiguity is great, “The Erl King” feels sadly under developed and feels painfully niche. I’ve never read “The Erl King,” the poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, so I was completely oblivious to what the mythology entailed and whether or not the Elf King was a force of good or evil. In either case, “The Erl King” has some palpable tension, but garners some anemic pacing, and lackluster turns from the cast. It’s not something I’d recommend, but I’d love to see a movie that opens up this legend more thoroughly to create a better sense of dread.

The Mannequin (2019)
There’s a lot to unwrap with “The Mannequin” as it’s a movie that mostly relies on ambiguity. At four minutes it doesn’t offer a lot of explanation on what is going on, but it does work as a great play on anxiety. Alexia Zahedi plays Alexia, a young woman home alone, waiting for boyfriend, who is convinced his mannequin is stalking her around the house. Without a single word of dialogue, “The Mannequin” is a pretty tight horror short that excels thanks to the great sound mixing by Fabrice Valsin. While it could definitely have used more time for build up, it’s a solid, spooky short.

TiCK (2019)
Director and writer Ashlea Wessel’s “TiCK” is a short film with a lot going for it, but does nothing with its run time. Working more as a proof of concept than a short film, “TiCK” is sent in a post-pandemic society, when a young vampire in hiding is forced to make a stand when confronted by the oppressive regime that’s kidnapped and enslaved her family. There are a lot of interesting concepts presented within the run time of “TiCK” including a task force hunting vampires, and the more sympathetic protagonists being people of color. Wessel offers a hint at a great feature film that mixes vampires and science fiction, which works to the detriment of the short. It’s a good short, but just feels like a prologue to a larger scope film that never comes, which is why I never really felt as if I was watching a short form film more than a pitch.

Tingle Monsters (2019)
Alexandra Serio’s short horror film is a wonderful and sadly true to life representation of the perils women (can and often do) face on the internet. It’s not just a creepy short, but one that also explores an all too common concept of men placing ownership on female web personalities. An ASMR vlogger returns from a long hiatus after an incident involving a fan, and comes back on to a live stream to entertain her audience.

But things turn absolutely horrifying when an unseen intruder makes himself seen on her web camera. Serio’s film is skillfully directed and created as it delves in to biting tension dependent on whispers and soft motions that indicate a unique concept of terror unfolding before our eyes. Along with the brilliant sound design, star (also director and writer) Serio’s performance is stellar. I highly recommend it, especially in a year where “Invisible Man” clicked with so many horror fans.