In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Best Horror Shorts of 2017

As I indicated yesterday, I am now in a position where I watch hundreds of short films a year. When you attend a shorts block at a film festival, be aware that someone has spent countless hours pouring over submissions to give you the very best.

I likely broke a personal record this year having watched over three hundred for SFFF, two hundred (and counting) for HXFF plus the usual supplement of Little Terrors subs and regular festival viewings. I enjoy it and the feedback received when someone really digs a short you played is really rewarding. I obviously have to sit through a lot of not-great shorts, but surprisingly few are so abysmal that they break my spirit. No one sets out to make a bad short, so their heart's in the right place at least.

Today though I want to highlight some tremendously gifted filmmakers who really shone in the short film space this year. Though some of these were technically from 2016, most are currently still playing around the world.

First and foremost is Natalie Erika James' Creswick. This creeper from Australia has been tearing up the festival circuit after making a splash at Fantasia this year. I still marvel at how well the visuals and audio were mixed in this piece. Rumour is that James' is currently now working on a feature version so the future is very bright for her indeed.

A short that I absolutely adore that hasn't been seen nearly as much as it should is D├íniel Reich's Recall. I'm not aware of it screening anywhere in Canada so I'm eager to show it at LT in 2018. Everything about this short is top notch and I imagine that the 20-minute running time is the only thing that has kept it from showing everywhere. I guarantee you will wish it was longer when the credits roll on it though.

For the third year in a row, Toronto filmmaker Justin Harding has directed a winner. Latched went so far as to play TIFF - the highest honour for a short, at least in the Big Smoke - with good reason. It has high production values, a playful tone that borders both on the whimsical and grotesque and a great cast. It is only a matter of time for Harding makes the jump to features.

Another great creeper I came across while screening shorts for Little Terrors was LA native Evan Cooper's The Armoire. It was some genuinely freaky imagery and an audio hook that will literally give you the shivers.

As crazy as it sounds, one of my favourite shorts this year was a Skittles ad. Fox really brought it when they broadcast some two-minute horrors during the Halloween season. Floor 9.5 is the perfect marriage of execution and economy.

Now there are shorts that are meant to scare, but there are also ones that aim to just entertain and I saw many of terrific ones this year. Chief among these were Mike Marrero & Jon Rhoads' Buzzcut and Joe Hitchcock's Stick To Your Gun. The former seeks to make a live-action Looney Tunes cartoon and the latter proves just how difficult personal grooming can be during the end of days.

Kelly Jane in Buzzcut

I also really like the world building involved in Adrian Selkowitz's Taste. A short that is funny and satirical while being incredibly well put together does not come around often.

In terms of short shorts, Greg Kovaks' Fun is just as advertised. Recalling the puppets of Kovak's classic short Tasha & Friends, this takes a loving stab at those kids' shows that encourage kids to talk  to the screen.

2017 saw an amazing numbers of solid animation shorts this year. So many were there that we at SFFF were able to put together an entire block of animations from around the world. The best (and coincidentally the most dour) was the Spanish stop-motion import Dead Horses by Marc Riba & Anna Solanas.

Lastly, there are the ones that go for the gross out, and none were better than Logan George & Celine Held's Mouse. If this tale about two junkies down on their luck attempting the yuckiest get-rich-quick scheme doesn't make you squirm, nothing will.

It's been one hell of a year! I think I got one more post in me before the ball drops so we'll talk then. Stay safe, kids.

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