Now in its 18th year, the people behind the Frightfest Film Festival can easily hold their heads up high as the creators of one of the foremost film festivals in the British cinematic calendar. With premieres of some of the best in world horror and fantasy, you would be hard pressed to find a better celebration of independent film.
But while the bulk of the mainstream media attention is given to the features, there’s always a lot of fun to be had with the shorts. Of the four Short Film Showcases this year, I only managed to see one. But it was a good one, containing eleven films from the UK, Canada, Australia and the United States. Some were comedic, some horrific and some just plain weird. But all are some of the most memorable films I’ve seen in 2018.
We Summoned A Demon
Director: Chris McInroy
Cast: Kirk Johnson, Carlos Larotta
They just wanted to be cool. Instead, they got a demon.
Following two guys who just want to summon a demon, what stands out most about this fast-paced horror-comedy is its wonderful adherence to old school practical effects. In addition, though the film’s surroundings might be nothing more than an empty warehouse, it’s a sign of the script’s strength (also by director Chris McInroy) that the hilarious back and forth between the two leads stays permanently at the forefront.
Director: Sarah Talbot
Cast: Jordan Hunter, David Parker
An unhappily married couple tries to ignore the grotesque, dripping stain that is growing on their ceiling.
Thank heavens I hadn’t eaten before witnessing this stomach-churning short (but in a good way!) Of all the shorts, Secretion is probably the most simplistic in terms of plot. But the ever increasing anger of Parker’s character, mixed with the skills of the sound designer elevates this black and white piece into something so much more. And when it’s finally revealed what’s causing the secretions? Well, I nearly threw up.
Director: Adria Tennor
Cast: Jessica Paré, Adria Tennor
Carol invites Annette over for homemade pie and after much prodding divulges her special secret ingredient.
I’ve been looking forward to seeing this film for nearly a year, and let’s just say it does not disappoint. Written, directed by and starring Adria Tennor, Pie presents us with the commonplace image of a middle-class housewife making a pie. But quickly the cherry-filled pastry becomes a gateway into something far more disturbing. With delightful performances from both Tennor and Paré, Pie ends up being a fruity insight into the underlying darkness of suburbia.
Director: Heidi Lee Douglas
Cast: Marigold Pazar, Flame Kimball
While searching for an endangered animal, Eddy gets bitten, and that bite is more infectious than it looks.
Brought to the big screen by Heidi Lee Douglas (who wrote, directed and produced), Devil Woman was the first of two more socially aware shorts in this showcase. While the end goal is to bring attention to the plight of the endangered Tasmanian Devil (which, in my opinion, it does so quite successfully); the choice to tell said tale through horror rather than a documentary was a stroke of genius. With strong camera work from cinematographer Meg White; Devil Woman ends up being the sort of film that entertains as well as teaches.
Director: Ashlea Wessel
Cast: Ava Close, Alexander De Jordy
In a post-pandemic society, a vampire in hiding is forced to make a stand when confronted with the oppressive regime.
Rather than a complete film, it was hard not to feel that Tick was just a small extract from a much larger picture. But it’s a picture that both intrigues and captivates. Set in the snowy colds of Canada, Tick illustrates how even the youngest and most innocent can break in the face of oppression. With an intensely creepy and effective performance from the youthful Ava Close, there are strong echoes of the work done by Lina Leandersson in 2008’s Let The Right One In.
Click on over to page two for six more amazing shorts.