The final day of the Frightfest sees it’s short film program delivering more concise thrills from around the world. There aren’t enough opportunities for people to enjoy short films. Aside from affording an opportunity to experience new talent at the height of creative freedom (minus the budget, of course) but it’s also a unique art form that thrives on discipline and ingenuity. Frightfest frequently finds superb examples of this form.
Pig dir. Evan Powers
A group of friends play strip poker in a cabin in the middle of the woods. They are unaware that they are being stalked by a gang of murderous psychos, and they have their own issues. Pig is a very funny horror comedy that features an inventive twist at its midpoint. The comedic contrivance is perhaps a little on the nose (the music is a little obvious) but it’s a well observed and very well written short.
One Last Meal dir. Jill Gevargizian
A prison guard is forced to go to extreme lengths to meet a prisoner’s final meal request. Of course real last meals are hardly sacred affairs, often limited to a few options and sometimes forgone entirely. However in this context the request serves as a metaphor for the high expectations placed on the guard in his role and for the hypocrisy of those who would take life as a profession. The warden holds onto some obtuse value of civility and convention in spite of his barbarism. It’s a subtly comic but very menacing work.
Dog Skin dir. Tiago Teixeira
A man is joined in his run down home by a stray dog which transforms into a beautiful woman each night. Like his previous effort, Wrong Number, Teixeira delivers a sinister but beautiful and enigmatic short. Based on an old folktale, the foreboding atmosphere lends a mythic quality to the film. Without a word spoken, nuanced meaning and emotion is articulated by the performances. It’s beguiling but also pleasingly ominous. A dark dream of a film.
Re-Possessed Homes dir. Matthew Evans Landry
Real estate agent Shirley Parker finds a niche market in re-purposing and flipping haunted homes. As her client list fills up, so does the number of frantic voicemails. Homes is a very funny satire of the ruthless real estate business and a brilliant horror story about responsibility. As Shirley Parker continues to provide for her own at the expense of others, she compromises her relationship with her children. It’s a familiar narrative but with a very unique twist and a fabulous sense of humour. The manner in which Parker sets about cleansing the houses of their various maladies is clever and very entertaining.
Hunting Season dir. Shannon Kohli
Late one night a gas station attendant in the middle of nowhere finds herself in the middle of a hunt for a mysterious and highly dangerous creature. This is a character driven, foreboding short about something mysterious and wondrous happening in the least likely of places. There’s an elegant beauty of the beast stepping out of the gloom into the buzzy neon light before the beleaguered and unprepared gas station attendant.
This Little Death dir. Alex Hardy
After a bloody meet-cute a man and woman begin an intense sexual relationship. The woman wants to take the relationship to a new level, the man has no idea what awaits him. This is a film about how people try to complete themselves with relationships and how two people can be intensely close and yet completely distant internally. It’s a brilliantly performed character driven drama with a playful but meaningful horror twist.
Toe dir. Neal O’Bryan
Living in a desolate wasteland, a lone boy desperately tries to survive. Finding a toe sticking out of the ground he decides to take it home and eat it, only to find himself stalked by a terrifying beast. Toe is a beautifully animated in sinister stop motion with a childlike gothic aesthetic. It’s a very sad tale, recalling the atmosphere and tone of a grim fairy tale. A beautifully bleak tale.
Midnight dir. Katie Bonham
An old man is roused from his sleep at midnight by disturbances in his home. Exploring, he begins to experience his home’s dark history or future. The chronology of this short is mysterious but the poignancy of experiencing your home’s troubled other occupants is very affecting. The characters are helpless as they are confronted by the enormity of the time that separates them. This is a very subtle and thoughtful short.
The Game of the Clock dir. Michelle Olivieri
Whilst visiting a friend, a young woman is drawn into a terrifying game in which she must survive five minutes alone with a beast she must not see. It’s a familiar format for horror shorts with lots of tense buildup and frightening reveals and an entertaining twist at the end. It’s a crowd pleaser and an excellent example of the form.