Day four of watching nothing but horror films, and I still wish it could never end. Especially the shorts. Segment after segment, so many budding talents have been treating audiences to bite-sized genre treats through a large variety of stories.
That’s what I love about a properly executed short – you get all the enjoyment of a feature film, compressed down into a quicker and simpler format which saves time, offering the opportunity for multiple high points in one night. Well, let’s keep it rolling, and showcase the last batch of shorts from the New York City Horror Film Festival!
Director: George A. Taramas & Michael Gruosso
Remember when cutesy cheerleader type hotties with mousey voices and innocent charm were a turn on? The whole blonde next door with bangin’ good looks and a smoldering sex appeal used to be something you looked for? Oh, it still is? Well then you obviously didn’t watch the above short film yet, aptly titled Demented. These Long Island directors took the most harmless, sweet, bombshell of a female character (Samantha Hoyt), and turned her into an intoxicating nightmare while channeling grindhouse aesthetics found in psychedelic thrillers which inspired entire genres of craziness. Demented is one of those offspring, turning the tides on your typical stalker fantasy and outlining a crime from hell for one “poor” sicko. I felt a little sick loving every minute of our smokin’ mistress’ torturous activities, but brilliant vision kept a perfect tone for enjoying such sick pleasures. I couldn’t help it, there was just too much fun at play to ignore, from an old-school soundtrack to visual elements like color filters and retro-delivery that gave Demented clear characterization.
Call it poetic justice, call it a deranged fetish, call it morbidly twisted, but hell, just watch Demented above and figure out your description. You won’t be sorry.
Director: Ben Kent
Horror and romance are a match made in heaven, there’s no getting around it. Love Bug is another one of those great mash-ups, taking the awkwardness out of a first date and replacing it with a terrible virus that turns people into horny, homicidal maniacs. Yes, main character Frank thinks he’s getting lucky tonight, but instead he gets a super-psycho stalker that wants to kill him. Sounds like my Tuesday night, am I right?! Eh, eh!? But really, Kent’s short about a date gone horribly awry is hilarious in part to tight writing and brilliant character acting from all performers involved (Daniel Carter-Hope, Thomas Coombes, Erica Emm). I could only find a short trailer above, but kudos to Love Bug for slaying the romantic comedy genre with a gut-busting short.
The Testament of Karma
Director: Alessandra Pinkston & Houston Williams Jr.
The first short all festival that didn’t necessarily tickle my fancy as the others, The Testament of Karma follows mother Karman (Alessandra Pinkston) as she awakens in a full bathtub with a strange man looming over her. From here, we follow Karman on her slow descent into furious anger and self-realization, brought on by the mysterious person recalling events from her past. Not terrible by any means, but lacking any vibrant storytelling or unique vibe, The Testament of Karma felt momentarily sluggish in places, a major problem for a short film. I mean, let’s be honest, with so many shorts already spotlighted, it was only a matter of time before I didn’t absolutely love one, right?
Director: Michael Sharpe
And there goes any mortician ever getting laid again. Poor bastards. Well, if Michael Sharpe didn’t make such a harrowing tale of jilted love, maybe people could date morticians without assuming anything negative, but sadly that’s exactly what Sharpe did. And well I might add. Actor Robert Haulbrook plays Ronald, a depressed mortician who refuses to let his now ex-girlfriend Sharlene (Jodi Essex) be, obsessed with the love they once shared. Terrified, Sharlene stops answering Ronald’s calls and hopes he’ll leave, but instead…well…just watch the short above. It’s embedded in full, and at 15 minutes, you’ve got a horrific story of never letting go. I guess that’s what you get for dating a macabre mortician, right?
Director: J. Prada & K. Prada
Imagine if anorexia was a living entity that followed people with the disorder, enslaving them to a life threatening illness/mentality? The Prada’s did, and that’s exactly what their extremely short film is about. If you’ve ever seen [REC], you should recognize the person playing “Anorexia” in a heartbeat. Give it a look!
Director: Gerhardt Slawitschka
Best friends forever people say – BFF4L as the kids abbreviate these days. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing you’ve always got someone to count on, but usually that means there has to be the same reciprocation, and let’s face it, people pretty much suck most of the time. Gerhardt knows this, and that’s why he created Between Friends, a fun little short about being selfish, putting friendships at jeopardy, and being an all around shitty person. People say karma is a bitch and you should treat other how you yourself want to be treated. After this little short, yeah, I can buy into that, for safety if nothing else. Check out the trailer above!
Director: John Northam
Ok, by far the scariest short from the festival, hands down. Viewers were jumping and screaming in the theater, which leads me to believe the seats were filled with horror newcomers, but even this veteran was visibly irked, so that says something, no? But for me, I am terrified of paranormal stuff, which is exactly what Sleepwalk is, showing a young adopted boy named Simon (Jacob Edward) who still believes his real mother hasn’t left our world just yet. As strange happenings begin at his new house, his foster parents start to worry about Simon’s sleepwalking habits, especially under the freaky circumstances. This was one I wish I had a full link for, but unfortunately no. It was a festival favorite amongst audiences, one I soon won’t forget either.
Director: Daniel Ren
Another one with no viewable videos anywhere, Chucking Emily ended our short film excursion with a predictable story and disappointingly anti-climactic finale. Seriously, with all the abundant creativity flowing through every other short, this one seemed a bit out-of-place, as I watched tirelessly waiting for a big twist, but it never came. Chucking Emily ended exactly as I thought it would, and took far too long to get there. Ren’s short didn’t hold a light to the other magnificent productions on display, but hey, again, you can’t love EVERYTHING.
On a sad note, that’s it for my short film coverage at the New York City Horror Film Festival, but now that means I get to start with my feature coverage! Expect those reviews to start trickling in, finding some pretty unique independent horror. Just wait kiddies…