Frightfest 2020 Short Horror Showcase 1 Review: Gruesome Shorts for ‘orrible Girls and Boys!

Bark (dir. Ryan Irving)

A tree in a park witnesses people enjoying bushes, dogs and some slasher movie antics. It’s a comedy film in which the tree becomes a facsimile for the voice of a slasher movie audience, willing the protagonist to make better decisions and survive her ordeal. It’s a fairly fun reminder of what makes films like these so engaging. It does however have a bit of an overactive camera and the humour won’t be for everyone.

Three Stars

A Bit of Fun (dir. Florence Kosky)

A group of friends gather around a Ouija board hoping to contact a spirit on the other side. This is a very melancholy piece that is well acted and subtly filmed. The camera is often locked down and the lighting very even, creating a very natural feel to the small flat. It has a good, though perhaps guessable, twist and doesn’t overstay it’s premise.

Five Stars

Breakfast (dir. Paul Beattie and Melanie Rios)

A bandaged woman attempts to make breakfast for her family but she may be worse off than she thinks. Breakfast is made by it’s menacing atmosphere and unsettling performance by Rebecca Smee. It’s a film about sickness, mental health, and consumation. The sound design is also brilliantly visceral. One to stay with you.

Four Stars

Flesh Control (dir. Christopher McSherry)

Two anthropomorphic insects work as exterminators, chatting about careers, life and death as they wait for the infestation to appear. It’s a fairly funny short that reverses the human-pest dynamic and explores some interesting themes. It has a very singular aesthetic but often feels cheap, particularly in it’s sound mixing. It also over-stays it’s welcome a bit and I’m not sure it fully fulfils it’s premise.

Two Stars

Subject 3 (dir. Teresa Decher)

A woman is on the run with a bandaged arm and a mysterious past. She’s stolen a car and returned to her home town amidst a terrible pandemic. THe setting is certainly pertinent and possibly prescient, as we see a potentially immune person lose her personal freedom in the name of progress. It’s a very interesting premise that is certainly bigger than this short film which will leave you wanting more. It’s also very unsettling and well made.

Five Stars

Jeff Drives You (dir. Aidan Brezonick)

A man is heading to a wedding in an AI driven car. As they talk during the journey a relationship begins to grow, but there’s a chance one of them is more into it than the other. Jeff Drives You is like Her in a car. The physical presence of Jeff is explored as bodies become a particularly important talking point between the two. There’s also aspects of class as there are two different heirarchies between the pair: that of worker and employer and that of human and machine. It’s a well performed, intimately shot short that is reminiscent of Black Mirror, particularly in it’s downer conclusion.

Four Stars

Ouzo and Blackcurrant (Nat Luurtsema)

Two old friends reunite to discuss their teenage larks. But they share a dark secret which may well be their undoing. An old fashioned premise shot in a very modern style, Ouzo and Blackcurrant is an effective horror short with a fantastic gag involving mobile phone cameras. A gag that may make you think twice before taking your next selfie. It’s also well acted and has a darkly pervasive sense of regret about it.

Four Stars

Tarrare (dir. Brian Gillespie)

An animated dark poem reminiscent of Tim Burton. It’s a bout a frightening young man who can’t stop eating. It’s a brilliantly funny poem performed with a dark glee that recalls Vincent Price. It’s very simple visually, with red text appearing on black background and different aspects of a horrible picture of the titular monster. The final lines are grim genius.

Four Stars

Guest (dir. Finn Callan)

A woman with a bandaged head recalls her night of terror with a stalking presence. Guest benefits from a fantastically frightening creature design. The titular guest is so creepy that the film can portray it totally unobscured in extended shots and it loses none of it’s ability to upset and unsettle you. More than a frightening monster it’s a very well filmed short that evokes an atmosphere of madness and loneliness. This is the one to keep your lights on tonight. Or perhaps throw them off forever.

Five Stars

The Beholder (dir. Shaun Clark)

A incredibly short film that is in fact an animated scene from Edgar Allen Poe’s Tell Tale Heart. It has a very distinct and engaging aesthetic and successfully renders the atmosphere of Poe’s short story. I’d have liked to have seen more of it, as the scene on it’s own is only really effective as a quick gag.

Three Stars


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