The short films shown before each feature at Celluloid Screams were particularly strong this year so rather than cram reviews for them at the end of my article like I did last time I thought I'd dedicate a separate post to the 16 mini-movies we were treated to. I've tracked a few of them down on YouTube and Vimeo too for your enjoyment.
Director: Nash Edgerton, Australia, 2007, 9 min
A simple one-gag comedy-short that works surprisingly well due to some accomplished naturalistic direction and performances. A nice touch at the end, although unnecessary, went down well with the audience too.
Directors: Adrián Cardona & Rafa Dengrá, Spain, 2011, 15 min
A 'recovered' mentally ill patient is told to rest and enjoy his summer holidays, but some unusual creatures that come from the ocean have other plans. This is silly, extremely gory fun that is a blast to begin with, but started to outstay it's welcome. Gorehounds will love it though.
Director: Fabrice Blin, France, 2010, 17 min
A mysterious man appears injured and unconscious at a small farmhouse in the middle of a forrest, occupied by a woman and her son. Once he comes to we realise he isn't the truly mysterious one though. This is a finely crafted short that shows a lot of promise from it's makers. It's tense, well performed and looks great.
Director: William Price, UK, 2010, 15 min
A group of kids play around in an abandoned warehouse. When they stumble upon an erie room they play a game of chicken. This is a nice, simple effective horror film which looks good too. Some minor issues with the narrative logic annoyed me a little (why do they keep playing?), but it's still a solid film.
Director: Matthew Garrett, USA, 2010, 11 min
A dark and shocking tale of inter-family murder, this didn't quite work for me. It's quite disturbing, but the end wasn't very satisfyingly handled and the young girl who takes the lead role couldn't quite pull it off.
Night of the Devil
Director: Florian Puchert & Wolfgang Bohm, Germany, 2011, 15 min
A charlatan 'exorcist' gets more than he bargained for when his latest job turns out to be real. Although it's set up sounds like a comedy, this was actually one of scariest films of the festival. OK, so a few of the scares are of the cheap shock-tactic variety, but they work. Plus as a whole it's well made, engaging and enjoyable.
Good Morning Beautiful
Director: Todd Cobery, USA, 2011, 20 min
A man becomes an empty shell after the death of his child, until he starts to notice strange goings-on around town. A strange, surreal short with more than the odd nod towards David Lynch, this really worked for me. It balances comedy, drama and horror very nicely to create an original yet very watchable short.
I couldn't find the short itself, but there's a great interview with the director here:
Employee of the Month
Director: Olivier Beguin, Switzerland, 2011, 18 min
Stephanie works in an unemployment centre with a difference. This started off being very funny, but got tired very quickly. At about half the length it would have been great, but the joke isn't strong enough to string out 18 minutes.
Again, I couldn't get the short itself, but this trailer gives you an idea of what to expect:
Director: Nash Edgerton, Australia, 2011, 11 min
A sequel to Spider, Bear basically replays the gag in a new setting. Predictable of course for this reason, but still funny and well produced.
Director: Hugo Lilja, Sweden, 2010, 28 min
Earth comes to terms with a zombie outbreak by using the undead as cheap labour. Katrin and Mark are managing well, working in capturing and lobotomising them, but once Mark recognises a zombie in his production line, he has second thoughts. This extended short is a fantastically well made, moving and fresh take on the tired zombie genre. It's also got a healthy dose of metaphor, which is a little heavy handed, but still welcome.
The Hairy Hands
Director: Ashley Thorpe, UK, 2009, 12 min
A fugitive races across the moors. Although he may have gotten away from his troubles back home, the moors have something evil in store for him. Made with an interesting blend of using stop motion with real-life actors, it's a stylistic curiosity with a nice level of tension, but it didn't blow me away.
Director: Sebastian Marka, Germany, 2010, 19 min
A reporter bags an exclusive interview with a serial killer, but gets more than he bargained for. Winner of the festival's award for 'best short film', Interview is a twist-laden thriller that is nicely constructed, but I wasn't totally convinced it needed it's final twist.
Director: Kire Paputts, Canada, 2010, 16 min
Larry spends his working hours scraping up roadkill and his home life consists of his favourite hobby, taxidermy. When he discovers a badly injured dog and takes it into his home he gradually learns that animals have more value preserved alive than dead. This is an incredibly touching and subtle short that will have the most hardened of viewers reaching for their hankies. That said, it doesn't steer away from some grisly imagery either.
Director: Jimmy Weber, USA, 2011, 7 min
A man wakes up in a bath full of ice-water with a huge stitch down the side of his body. What has been taken from him? Or added... There isn't much to this short, but it's effectively visceral and intense. The special makeup effects are great too.
Director: Raul Cerezo, Spain, 2011, 13 min
Tension mounts as a boy celebrates his 8th birthday. This strange, dark short is quite tense but lays it on way too thick. It's score and presentation was so over the top that I was expecting a comedy red-herring ending which didn't come.
The Last Post
Director: Axelle Carolyn, UK, 2011, 11 min
An elderly lady in a nursing home is visited by a man that no one else seems to see. The directorial debut of Neil Marshall's wife Axelle Carolyn, The Last Post was quite a disappointment. There's a nicely creepy ghost appearance near the start, but that's where the horror ends and the drama it becomes isn't particularly captivating or moving. It's all just a little too bland and uninteresting.