Shorts Round Up of the Week – 4/2/19

For this week’s edition of “Shorts Round Up of the Week” we view the apocalypse through two lenses, dissect nature through the killer whale, and look at the cycle of life through animation.

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

Child (2016)
Iring Freytag and Viktor Stickel’s animated student film is a hypnotizing look at the cycle of life and how we’re very much a part of nature, while nature is a part of us. Very much in the vein of “Red Turtle,” the pair of directors tell a mostly silent black and white story that begins with a young baby sitting by a fire in a womb like enclosure. As the fire goes out, the child is forced to go out and basically live its cycle as a virile human being, an innovative builder and collector, and inevitable an elderly being forced to confront its mortality. With the silent and mesmerizing animation, at nine minutes, “Child” is hypnotic and poetic.

Deep Dish Apocalypse (2018)
David Codeglia’s short horror comedy is a nasty but fun bit of zombie apocalypse fodder that mixes in a fractured romance tale. What do you do when during a zombie outbreak the creepiest thing you come across is a co-worker who has held a long lasting crush on you? Emily just managed to survive a horde of zombies and manages to make her way to the local subway where a train is arriving to haul survivors. While waiting, she’s met by co-worker Doug who manages to hear how she survived, and had to murder her boyfriend Josh. The problem is Doug is a bit too ecstatic at Emily having to murder her boyfriend, and now Emily is trying to wrap her head around it while dodging the rising tide of zombies. What adds to the comedic punch is the way that the zombies have risen, with the apocalypse being spawned thanks to infected mozzarella. Anyone and everyone that’s feasted on pizza is now a flesh eating zombie. “Deep Dish Apocalypse” is a fun one off with a great sense of comedic flair.

How to Be Alone (2019)
Kate Trefry is a woman that has worked for the hit series “Stranger Things” and has managed to muster up a ton of acclaim as a director and writer in the film festival circuit. Maika Monroe plays Lucy, a young photographer whose boyfriend Jack (Joe Keery of “Stranger Things”) has to pull a twelve hour shift as a nurse at the hospital. Faced with being on her own, she has to work through a process of dealing with being by herself, and not fall back on dependency on alcohol, cigarettes, and medicine as she’s been prone to do in the past. Of course as her anxiety begins to grow, she endures a battle with her mental demons. “How to Be Alone” isn’t a slam dunk of a horror movie, but it’s a wonderfully directed look at the horror of anxiety and the fear of being alone. Of course some of it is exaggerated for the sake of the genre, but “How to Be Alone” is a solid film that gets the point across well and that’s thanks to Maika Monroe’s spirited performance, and Trefry’s slick direction.

Oscar’s Bell (2018)
Chris Cronin’s short horror tale is a masterful example of suspense, tension, and ambiguity that’s absolutely frightening. The less we know about the narrative and what happens once the film draws to a close, the scarier the entire film becomes, and I loved it. I genuinely sat with baited breath wondering what the hell director Cronin was going for, and he delivers on all fronts. Duncan (Paul Bullion) and his dog Oscar have gone on their weekly camping trip into the wilderness together, and he’s taken his son, much to the disapproval of his ex-wife. As Duncan drifts off, he notices his dog Oscar has disappeared. Suddenly he realizes that as he looks out in to the woods, something is looking back at him. “Oscar’s Bell” is a very creepy and intense jolt with some fantastic editing, and excellent plays with sound and shadows. Just when you think you have “Oscar’s Bell” figured out, Cronin alarms you with a tale you’ll want to experience again and again. I very much hope we see more from director Cronin very soon.

Pendulum (2019)
Lauren Cooney’s science fiction drama is a beautiful if haunting look at the end of the world, and how humanity can’t help but continue being humanity even at the end of its days. Set in India, a young couple seeks a sense of spiritual peace when space experiences a gravitational rip. This is causing the Earth to basically collapse in to the cosmos with other heavenly bodies. While joining a commune to find some solace, they’re taken advantage of by an enigmatic leader, and along the way gain some special insight in to the human condition. “Pendulum” is a vibrant bit of end of the world fiction that pictures a less than flattering light on humanity, and views its end at the throes of a beautiful apocalypse. The CGI is brilliant with some scenes that are absolutely breathtaking, and while meditating on the human condition, audiences will also be inspired to wonder what they’d do viewing such an awe inspiring event that spelled doom for every living being on the planet. Director Cooney does a bang up job with a unique bit of science fiction drama, and I hope people seek this out.

A Tale from the Whale (2018)
Jack Packshaw’s short spiritual documentary will likely pose some value to a certain kind of audience, but I wasn’t too big in to “A Tale from the Whale.” Packed with a ton of spiritual imagery, heavy narration and looks at the beauty of the killer whale, “A Tale from the Whale” poses a certain viewpoint about mankind and nature acting as one. I’m all for ideas about existentialism and respecting nature, but “A Tale from the Whale” often times feels more like an inspirational video and less like a film. I honestly wasn’t too certain what “A Tale from the Whale” was aiming to project, when all was said and done. All things considered, as I mentioned, the film that’s a collection of music and art from various spiritualists will likely find a place with people that can appreciate and absorb this kind of fodder. For me, I liked the intention I just didn’t take anything away from it in the realm of substance or ideas.