Day two of the New York City Horror Film Festival came and went with no road bumps this time thankfully, as I was able to enjoy the night’s lineup without any delays, along with a special guest appearance by horror icon Rob Zombie, but I’ll touch on that experience later and save the love here for another fantastic night of short films. Teddy bears, talking vegetables, cannibalism – what wasn’t there to love?
The Captured Bird
Director: Jovanka Vuckovic
Isn’t it great when a little piece of cinema comes along and just makes your skin crawl, especially when it’s backed by the likes of Guillermo del Toro, George A. Romero, and Mick Garris? That’s what The Captured Bird brilliantly accomplishes, telling a short story about a tiny child’s encounter with a haunted mansion and five freakish demons birthed from black sludge, along with being a major accomplishment for director Jovanka Vuckovic. Skin crawling visuals and a tense atmosphere weren’t the only things to tout though, as child actress Skyler Wexler (who will be portraying Young Carrie in the upcoming Carrie remake) exudes innocence and purity in leaps and bounds, delivering a perfect accompanying performance for Vuckovic’s darkly fantasized world of decaying horror and morphing black slime. Attached is the best trailer I could find, unfortunately having no link to the entire short, but be sure to check it out if you ever, EVER get the chance.
Director: Andrew Silke
Next up is Andrew Silke’s disturbing rendition of traumatic drama, as a nervous mother (Diane) starts noticing correlating similarities between her daughter Amelia’s actions late at night, and peculiarities appearing on her newborn baby. We watch as Diane attempts to battle the demons turning her against her eldest child, while looking to an unaware husband for help. It’s a sadder and more somber tale of a slow heartbreak, more like a thrilling drama, but is unnerving none the less. Could you turn against your child, even if you knew she was evil?
Director: Karl Holt
A short film about paranormal investigations? Being a huge Paranormal Activity fan, Negative Image was right up my alley, with a clear vision from director Karl Holt and appropriately paranoid acting from David Moynihan. Following a paranormal journalist who visits an abandon asylum for some magazine cover worthy pictures, but finds more than he bargains for when developing his snap shots. And by more, I mean ghostly apparitions that start to haunt him. But the best parts of Negative Image were technical camera work that really drew out the creepy vibe and squeezed the dilapidated asylum for every ounce of horror, setting the tone early for Moynihan’s strong lead performance. But don’t just trust me, see for yourself as the whole film can be found embedded!
Deer Head Valley
Director: Travis Green
But enough of the serious and dramatic horror, let’s get back into the comedy schtick material. Deer Head Valley is all about mixing sick and twisted humor, cannibalistic natures, and the idea that images can be deceiving, all with distinct character, which is phenomenal for a short film. Green’s picture popped off the screen with vibrant color and established Deer Head Valley as an actual place, not just a set location for a film. There was life, horrific emotion, and fun character acting by lead Ronnie Prouty, a young actor you should definitely keep your eye on. Deer Head Valley was a complete, gripping short, and one I wish I could show you in full.
Director: Michael Doucette
Continuing in the comedy realm, Sandwich Crazy was a downright blast, as struggling sandwich show owner Gary sells his soul for a microwave that creates the perfect sandwich every time, but of course not without consequences. Soon enough, Gary’s patrons are lined out the door, begging for their next delicious sandwich, and that’s when the food starts talking to him, begging him not slice off a chunk of their body, like a living organism. Yes, you read that right, vegetables start begging for their lives, exclaiming “But I’m just lettuce, I’m all water and have no nutritional value!” Poor Gary, becoming slave to his now booming shop, starts cracking under the now murderous implications of his tantalizingly addictive sandwiches, and all too fantastically for our entertainment. I’m so angry there’s nothing I can link to show you guys just what I’m talking about, scouring the internet for even just a trailer, but nada, just this behind the scenes glimpse which at least introduces you to some important people, and the Onion! Remember the name Sandwich Crazy, and if you ever stumble upon a copy perchance, watch it IMMEDIATELY.
Director: Ryan Denmark
And now for my favorite short film of the NYCHFF to date, and a hard beat for anything else I’ve yet to watch, Plush. Seriously, hands down, one of the best short films I have EVER seen, blending both horror and comedy with sharp, witty, and masterful scripting with such an adorably horrifying concept. I haven’t laughed this hard in a freakin’ feature film lately, let alone other comedic shorts, and I mean that. Uproariously funny. Uproarious. The entire theater. Every last person. Director Ryan Denmark has stumbled upon something special here, being one of those productions where you sit there and think to yourself “oh man, how awesome would it be if,” but Denmark beats you to the punch on-screen before you can even imagine your own cinema dream scenario.
I’m trying to hold as many details as possible, but basically a young woman starts displaying a strong bond with her teddy bear Vincent, telling him to “hold the fort” while she’s at work, but when a robber breaks in, Vincent does exactly as his master asks. Key word: DOES. Imagine Ted, but with sharper claws, and making cute and cuddly sounds the entire time. I mean, c’mon, look at how precious he is, how could you stay mad at such a snuggle muffin?! The best news? As per Plush‘s official Facebook: ” [Plush is] the new short film from Third Star Films, based on a feature film in development! Currently touring film festivals, Plush will be released online in early 2013.” Sorry, I’m having a horrorgasm right now. Feature film?! Yes please, right now! Once the short is released online, you’ll understand why.
Director: David Schneider
Evil children and evil ventriloquist dummies, two of the most horrific things to me. They usually represent fun and innocence, creative wonder and happiness. So when you turn them horrific, ugh, that’s what gets me, and that’s what Show Me does. It’s a psychological thriller that doesn’t show a killer doll by any means, but instead the brutal mental mindf*ck of losing a child and imagining/listening to his voice through the vessel of a ventriloquist dummy. Short, sweet, demented, and chilling. Give the trailer a watch, stare into those unblinking eyes, and you’ll know what I mean.
That’s it on the shorts from Day Two, but check back tomorrow for Day Three’s adventure, and be sure to check out Day One’s coverage!