‘Frightfest Short Film Showcase 1’ Reviews: Vampiric Hitchhikers, Creepy Kids and Nipples

Frightfest is back and offers a new opportunity to see some of the spookiest horror films that will chill you to the bone in ten minutes or less. Always a marvellous experience, this year the standard is high as entries from Australia, Korea, Finland, Canada and the UK all put forth their most concise visions of terror.

Wither dir. Ethan Evans

Perhaps the tightest experience in the first showcase, Wither sees a young girl fall out of step with her rural community’s traditions and pay a gruesome price. In just three minutes it establishes it’s folk horror aesthetic, the rules of this particular monster and delivers an effective stalking sequence. There’s a bleak fairy tale quality to this effective little chiller.

Four Stars

Hana dir. Mai Nakanishi

A baby sitter is employed to look after a little girl in a high rise building. She soon finds herself playing a sinister game of hide and seek. Although much of the film’s ample tension is predicated on the unsettling nature of the child, this is a very morose story about modern life and it’s impact on parenting. A truly sorrowful story.

Five Stars

Marianne dir. Matthew Losasso

The only truly experimental film of the first showcase features the narration of a man obsessing over a talented young woman whilst we see her exploring a rundown rural environment. Featuring gorgeous black and white photography Marianne is posessed of a surreal and engaging atmosphere. It’s enigmatic but undeniable captivating.

Four Stars

The Hitchhiker dir. Adele Vuko

Three women are driving through the night to a music festival. They make the fateful decision to pick up a hitchhiker and soon discover that she’s even stranger than she seems. This is a very effective comedy horror short that develops it’s characters quickly, and manages to balance the laughs and scares very naturally. Performances are wonderful throughout but especially Claudia Pickering as subtly charismatic Hitchhiker.  It’s funny, inventive and atmospheric.

Five Stars

The Dead Ones dir. Stefan Georgiou

A young woman is haunted by the ghost of the man she accidentally killed. One day she discovers that her situation is not unique and that there are rules that may spare her from her torment. The Dead One’s is more a shortform psychological thriller about remorse and grief. Lead actress Olivia Hallinan delivers a sorrowful performance, a wonderful counterpoint to Sebastian Armesto’s wry spirit and Jim Conway’s magnetically sinister villain.

Five Stars

Abyssus  dir. Kim Westerlund

A man has been buried alive and must find a way to escape before he befalls an even more sinister fate. The film succeeds without dialogue and with only one, very small location to deliver a very unique claustrophobic nightmare. It’s sparse but very affecting.

Four Stars

Glitter’s Wild Women dir. Roney

Two farmer women, who seem to have developed super powers as a result of the strange glitter they harvest and smoke, decide to hold a film festival in their home. The film is made by it’s very funny lead actresses Grace Glowicki and Cotey Pope who deliver indie-style awkward dialogue with great comedic delivery. It’s also elegantly shot, realising the women’s powers in an interesting way.

Five Stars

The Video Store Commercial dir. Cody Kennedy

The owner of a Bluray, DVD and VHS shop makes an advert to draw up some business. But whilst filming the advert, strange things start to happen. This is a fairly slight but entertaining little horror that resembles a skit. More character work and perhaps a little more length may have made this darker and more interesting.

Three Stars

The Cunning Man dir. Zoë Dobson

A rural practicer of dark magic becomes the target of a small town conspiracy. Pressed into a corner he draws upon his powers to avoid a hefty fine. This is a beautifully shot and peculiarly English folk tale that very effectively modernises anxieties over the countryside and the folk who live there. It’s also oddly charming with great performances and an eye for the stark beauty of the countryside.

Five Stars

The History of Nipples dir. Bailey Tom Bailey

A downbeat man wonders if all of his troubles might be caused by his superfluous male nipples. The titular nipples come to represent all of the ways in which the lead character feels unable to control his simple life. He doesn’t like extra bits, and from a male perspective nipples perhaps represent a stereo-typically feminine ability to give nourishment that he fails to value. It’s a thought provoking film that is also well-made and darkly funny.

Four Stars

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