Werewolf (dir. Markus Meedt)
A group of friends assemble to play the secret identity game; werewolf. But the game seems to be becoming reality. This is a very self aware comedy that hits as often as it misses and features some fairly broad characters in a scenario that doesn’t seem like it has much to say about the titular game. Though as someone who experiences a fair amount of anxiety when playing secret identity games I do appreciate the fairly accurate atmosphere of hostility and distrust.
The Motorist (dir. Ciaran Lyons)
A very intense short that sees a motorist refusing to leave his car having seemingly caused an accident. As his time runs out, the locals begin a strange ritual. This is a film about responsibility, shame and fear. It’s a brilliantly shot claustrophobic nightmare with folk horror aesthetics. It has an interesting mythology and a lore that feels deep and original.
Love Bite (dir. Charles de Lauzirika)
A couple find themselves trapped in a car amidst the zombie apocalypse. As tensions rise between them, it suddenly becomes very important which of them is right. This is a campy film about gender dynamics and particularly toxic masculinity and how it affects team work. It’s fun and very well made but does lose itself to silliness by the end.
The Gift (dir. Laura-Beth Cowley)
In this animated short, a young woman struggles with menstruation whilst experiencing visions of a witch and developing supernatural powers. This is a film about reclaiming iconography around menstruation as symbols of burgeoning powers and womanhood. It’s about historical attempts to belittle and alienate women and how those stories can be used today. It’s an empowering and moving short in a beautiful and entirely original animation style.
Wash (dir. Kiggs)
An enigmatic short about a beleaguered mother and her unnerving approach to discipline. It’s a film about regret in which the tragic incident has happened and we are experiencing the surreal despair of the aftermath. A morose and very atmospheric short with fantastic and horrific intimacy in it’s framing.
Fuel (dir. Hermione Sylvester)
An actress struggles to realise a scene involving a controlling domestic partner, due to similarities to her personal life. This is a very intelligent short in which layers of meaning reveal themselves as the story unfolds. The actress is taking direction to be more assertive in the scene, which is also criticism of her character to stand up for herself but is also a harsh truth for the performer who is experiencing a similar relationship in real life. It’s about a woman learning to take responsibility for her life and is also truly menacing and tense, especially in it’s frightening third act. Olivia Vinall is excellent in the lead role.
Polvotron 500 (dir. Silvia Conesa)
A man tries to escape the dystopian streets of his city by entering a brothel for holographic sex workers. Accidentally turning on the machine, he refuses the holograms advances…at least initially. Man falling for machine is fairly familiar territory but there’s a disturbing read of this film in which the hologram successfully diagnoses what our lead character really needed to encourage him to spend more money. Not any kind of sexual service but instead he needed someone to save. Though the film ends on an optimistic note, there’s a pervasive lack of intimacy that permeates the entire film including the ending. It’s a very interesting and well made minimalist sci-fi short.
Keith (dir. Alex Baro-Cayetano)
A little girl becomes aware of a frightening presence in her bedroom at night. But after talking to the monster, she learns it’s not so bad. Reminiscent of “A Monster Calls” this is a cute and fairly funny short that has an excellent twist and final gag. It also leaves a great deal to the imagination.
Death Walks on Nitrate (dir. Kevin Fermini)
A pastiche of Giallo films sees a sadistic photographer become entranced in the suffering of an old woman in a park. Taking a few pictures she soon finds that the old woman is more powerful than she seems. Stylistically the film is very arresting, clearly borrowing colour pallettes from Mario Bava and Dario Argento. Also borrowed is the theme of voyeurism and the cost it comes at. The film is about the act of looking. It also has a little “Ringu” homae and some fairly good gore effects. It’s quite fun and very pretty.
The Afterlife Bureau (dir. Dimiter Dimiroff)
A paper pusher in the afterlife is desperate to get her last client off to the right department before her train. But as the client proves more and more difficult she finds herself compromising in extreme ways. This is a darkly funny short that is reminiscent of The Good Place. It’s clearly trying to be provocative and does manage some commentary on corporate indifference.