I attended two screenings of Horror Short films at the Phoenix Film Festival this weekend; in 172 minutes, I saw 17 films. Some were longer, one maxed out at 3 minutes. They came from all over the world: England, Switzerland (I think; it’s a logical assumption if nothing else), the U.S. Some had no dialogue. Some had stop-motion effects. All of them were fascinating. I don’t know how widely any will be released, but I’ll give you a short synopsis of each, and then you can check them on online and at phoenixfilmfestival.com to see more information!

Here are some write-ups on the first set of shorts. If you look on the festival website, these are from Horror Shorts B.

Whispering Pines
Synopsis: a teen boy and girl play a game of hide-and-seek in the forest. When she finds him, his mask is removed. Soon he disappears so she can hide. When he finds her, her mask is removed. They are VERY different masks. I like the simplicity of this film, and the lack of dialogue. It makes the visual element much more powerful. The film may have been shot at a tree farm…

Edward the Damned
Synopsis: Edward is pretty cool guy, apart from the wig. He just had an amazing day at work and his buddy wants to take him out to celebrate. Edward struggles a little bit when people get too close to his wig (go figure). We can tell something’s not right when he puts a big strip of duct tape over the back of his head the next morning, prior to putting on his wig. Edward meets a girl for a drink, and she’s pretty into him, but again, she tries to touch the hair and he FREAKS OUT and bails. He’s getting desperate enough to call someone and take a large sum of cash out of an ATM to take care of his “problem”. When we finally see his problem, it makes perfect sense. And we are totally creeped out. Some amazing practical filming effects in this one. Poor Edward. Not even a letter to God can set him straight. This was my favorite of this particular showing. The scene in the “doctor’s office” is riveting; we know we’ll finally see the problem, but when surgical instruments are uncovered and the doctor’s face is pained and horrified, it gets a little intense. Very well done.

Tasha and Friends
Synopsis: a low-budget children’s TV show is on hiatus, and the star, Tasha, wants to get rid of one of the puppet actors. She has NO idea that the puppets want to get rid of her instead. Cheeseball, corny, any other food-related euphemisms you want to insert here…but it was fun. The breaking-free-from-the-man-sized-puppet’s-stomach was great! I had no idea there was so much blood in there…

Bright Eyes
Synopsis: You know that feeling you get when you’re in the house alone, and you swear there’s someone inside with you? You get up and check it out, right? Well, so does this woman, but when the chips are down, she doesn’t really look for anyone or anything…she just freezes, much to the chagrin of the villain. He tries really hard to get her to see him, and she staunchly refuses to turn around. Poor Mr. Killer. This was hilarious. The killer’s body language conveyed a ton of irritation. Loved it.

The Carriage or: Dracula & My Mother
• Just really quickly: is anyone else loving these titles, or is it just me?
Synopsis: A man brings his wife and baby home to Mom’s for the holidays, but she’s already got an unexpected visitor: a sinister carriage in the yard (can inanimate objects be sinister?). The man tries to film it to see what’s going on, maybe with more urgency after the cat is injured and wife hears something on the roof of the house. When man and mom discover what was in the carriage, it takes a religious ritual and fervent guarding of injured family members to finally spark some urgency to get rid of it. And with the roots burrowing in human flesh, the time for action is NOW. This one was creepy (black & white), and anything that harms animals is doubly sinister. There were a couple of languages spoken, which added to the other-worldly feel to the movie. I enjoyed it.

My Love, Our Time is Now
Synopsis: It’s a music video. A very cool music video. The musicians/actors are very good performers. They’re singing the title song, and the main characters that the video is actually about are running through/lying in fields and woods. Every now and then a reaper pops up, guiding the man, and he eventually figures out that if he wants to avoid these reapers, he needs to find the woman and stay with her. Great song, cool effects, interesting take on life…men, take note: to avoid all the bad stuff, stick with a good woman!

One More for the Road
Synopsis: a married couple is clearly having some problems. They’re on a road trip to try and patch things up and get back on track, but an unexpected roadside stop puts things in a different perspective: maybe they don’t really want to fix their problems. Maybe they just want to be done with each other. Forever. Didn’t think a person could get up and walk after being whacked with a tire iron that many times. This was funny. And violent. I like gore. The actors really worked well together to develop a sense of loathing in the relationship.

The Bad Days
Synopsis: apparently, if you’re on medication when the zombie apocalypse arrives, you should KEEP TAKING IT. A woman locks herself and her cancer-stricken husband (tied up in full Misery style) in their apartment. She’s gotten to the point where she’s afraid he’s going to turn into a zombie as well, so in order to save him from that awful fate, she decides to end his life. That’s when the world goes arse-over-teakettle. Seriously. Take your meds. Great narration and effects.


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