Here’s a quick look at some of my favorite short films from the NYC Horror Film Fest. It’s by no means complete, and they’ll most likely be a follow up in the next few days. For example, Patrick Rea screened two films (“Now That you’re Dead” & “Get Off My Porch”) that I love, but I’m doing a more in depth look at his shorts as a whole in December.
Stay tuned here for updates as to when these films will screen in your area or make their way online for streaming and downloads.
The Living Want Me Dead (dir. Bill Palmer) Easily one of the most crowd pleasing of sorts, as evidenced by it taking home the Audience Award. It also serves as a very important PSA for the horror loving crowd: Even in these harsh economic times, never ever take financial advice from a hobo.
See, our protagonist Howard has fallen on some harsh times, and has decided to earn cash by acting as a guinea pig for the government. You know those body sprays that make claim one squirt and fine looking vixens will be shedding their clothes by your night stand and feeding you grapes while running their hands through your chest hair? Imagine a result the exact opposite of that. Poor Howard finds that his new scent turns anyone that catches the slightest whiff into rabid killing machines hell bent on using his internal organs for outer fashion wear. Now it’s off to the races for Howard as he beelines through his suburban neighborhood, trying to avoid getting killed.
“…Want Me Dead” is a near perfect horror short, and as I said elsewhere it packs a feature film worth of awesome sauce into a twenty minute run time. Palmer fills the screen with tremendous visual jokes, such as Howard’s kitten launching himself in murderous rage and oversized Christmas decorations used as weapons. It helps that the two leads (Adam Conger as Howard and Tony Nunes as the slacker buddy Teddy) share fantastic rapport and one lines-Teddy’s comment about having his backyard turned in to the scene of a hate crime is particularly hilarious. There’s also the matter of the gore. There’s a lot of it in this film. From a speeding bus turning a man in to a meatsack puree, to vomiting zombies this one is sick and twisted from beginning to end. Speaking of the end, it seems to have been left open for future installments. I for one would love to see this story march on.
What he finds freaks him out. He discovers that Justine was murdered thirty years ago, that evening and that the killer was never caught. Roussel does a nifty job of amplifying the tension here as Matt tries to do anything in his power to warn Justine, especially after a shadowy figure makes his way across the screen. Can Matt actually change events that happened decades ago? And shouldn’t he pay a little more attention to what’s going on in his own house?
The short works because of the chemistry of its two meads-Ron Basche and Sarah Silverthorne. They never over dramatize the discovery that they can see and communicate with one another from either side of their set. Sure, they’re appropriately freaked out at first, but after a bit they settle in and hit it off. Roussel’s also smart to not waste too much time on focusing why they can see one another. Marc comes up with some convoluted explanation involving the snowstorm until they both agree he’s full of shit.
Choreomania (dir. Louis Paxton) There were only a handful of zombie shorts at this year’s festival, and this Scottish import was definitely the most unique amongst them. See, rather than being turned into a flesh eating member of the living dead from a bite, here a simple touch causes the infected to turn in t mindless spastic dancers. All our working class hero wants to do is set about his day, but everywhere he turns, he’s besieged by lumbering booty dancers. There’s some fantastic humor here outside of just the visual execution of the concept, such as a group of wanna be hip hoppers driving around with the bass bumping, and our protagonist asking if that’s a smart move given the circumstances. Even better is the scene at the end, which treats the audience with the insight as to how our zombies see themselves-with a devil may care attitude and patrons of a sock hop. Zombie films get to be a drag after awhile, so it was great to see a funny new spin on the genre.
Laura (dir. Gailien Guibert)THIS is how you do a turn-the-tables-on –your-attacker story. The short opens with a blank screen and the sounds of a boxing gym while an instructor barks orders to work the jab. Keep this in mind as we cut to our young French Canadian Laura who is having a very bad day. Bills are piling up, with no end in sight, and it looks like she’s about to get tossed from her rundown apartment. Wanting to escape the city, Laura takes to her car for an afternoon of angrily singing along to some rock and roll and making a beeline to a secluded swimming hole with the hopes of clearing her head. Of course, as these things go, whenever you THINK you’ve got the woods to yourself, lo and behold there’s a deranged loon watching you in the underbrush simply biding his time before he knocks you out with a wrench.
Remember the boxing instructions earlier? Seems are killer picked the wrong lady to mess with because in a stunning turn of events she gleefully beats the ever loving snot out of the would be assailant. Laura takes out every bill collector’s final notice, every cockroach she’s spotted in her sink, every morning the jalopy of a car wouldn’t start in the winter’s cold and channels it all in to her fists and feet of destruction, literally ripping a new orifice into her attacker’s body by the end of the short.