Sunday, October 27, 2013

Top 10 (MORE) Scary Short Films







It's almost Halloween, which means it's that time of year again when you desperately search through your Netflix queue for anything scary that you haven't seen yet (and that doesn't look terrible).

Last year, we provided you with a Top 10 list of scary short films that a lot of folks seemed to enjoy. One of you even went all next level with it and hosted a Halloween screening of the selected list at a graveyard.







We also got a fair share of requests to make another Top 10 list of scary short films to enjoy for Halloween 2013. Unfortunately, that sounded like a bit of a daunting/impossible task. 

The original list was called 'Top 10' due to the fact that the selected films were RamblingBeachCat.com's best 10 short horror films out there. Would there really be 10 more films made in the last year (or that I missed) to make up another Top 10 list?


Well, after hours of slogging through lots of crappy videos (and even more well produced ones that piddle around for a few minutes before providing one inexplicable jump scare), the answer is a resounding yes. There were, in fact, some great ones made since last October along with some I missed and a few that I was politely reminded about missing in various internet forums and comment sections.

Besides needing to be good, here was some of the criteria for making this year's list:

-It actually needs to be a "short film." When a movie is set up to be a short feature, the audience goes in with certain expectations of efficiency and a quick resolution. Once it starts to drag over half an hour, my A.D.D. medicine struggles to fend off the unicorns that gallop majestically through my mind.


-No zombie films. Zombies aren't that scary and have also become the lazy filmmaker's go-to genre. If you want to see a Top 10 Zombie Short Film list that's good, click here (and please don't ask me to do it again).

-Jump scares are fine and good, but there has to be a bit more context to them than some girl wandering around a house before a random dude in a clown mask pops up behind her and the film cuts to black.

Each movie has a brief plot summary and a description about why it's great. There will be minimal spoilers, but you should watch the films first if you really want to get the full scare effect. Since I'm a giant pansy, there is also a helpful guide at the end of each entry warning you about the film's moment that is most likely to cause you to empty your bowels.

Fair warning: There is a fair amount of gore and a lot of swearing (since people tend to cuss a lot when they are really scared or badly injured). Now let's start things off with a story about a little kitty who has been very bad.





10. The Cat With Hands



Plot
While drawing water up from a well, an old man tells a story to his younger companion about boy who met a cat with human hands...and a desire for much more.

Why it's great
When this one wasn't included in last year's list, I was rightfully chastised by a couple users here and on Fark.com. I definitely will not be making that same mistake twice. A combination of beautiful animation, great story telling, and a wonderful twist ending make this film by writer/director Robert Morgan a real treat.

Moment most likely to induce brick labor
2:27 is when I decided that owning a cat may not be in my future.




9. Vessel




Plot
Flight 133 is midway through a cross country flight when one of the passengers notices an alien spacecraft getting closer and closer to the plane. Of course no one believes him...which of inevitably leads to E.T. making very close and bloody contact with the passengers.

Why it's great
After successfully funding this project through Kickstarter, director Clark Baker shoots about one of the most brilliantly uneven sci-fi/horror shorts I've ever seen.

On one hand, the CGI (and some of the acting) are at times dreadful. But the practical effects, camera work, and story (particularly the bone chilling twist at the end) are great and more than make up for the film's shortcomings.

The film has been picked up as a feature by Paramount, so we may get to see a terrifying expansion (and improved CGI effects) on this little gem very soon.

Moment most likely to induce brick labor
At 11:31, the stewardess lays down the law of her new parasitic host pretty hard on that poor little girl.




8. Slash-In-The-Box



Plot
A couple starts playing a Jack-In-The-Box the husband brought home. Things go very badly.

Why it's great
Shot in one day on a budget of $2,000, director Nick Everhart is able to take something that has an obvious fear point (the popping up of a jack-in-the-box) and make it even scarier and creepier than you had anticipated.

While the score for the film was a bit generic, it also greatly enhanced the overall mood and served as a great backdrop to the eerie and out of tune rendition of 'Pop Goes the Weasel.'

Moment most like to induce brick labor
4:12 definitely had me yelling 'WHAT'S IN THE BOX?!' at my computer screen...I wish I hadn't asked.





7. Click




Plot
A bunch of foul mouthed kids are running around an abandoned building and acting like brats. But before you can start to wonder why there seem to be no adults (or another living thing) are anywhere in sight, the group decides to play a game in which they see who can stand in the dark the longest before getting scared and turning the lights back on.

Unfortunately for them, an unseen entity has decided that it would like to play, as well.

Why it's great 
Director William Prince takes a very simple concept and masterfully builds an impending sense of dread for the first half of the film with great camera work, ambient noise, and a haunting score.

From there, the simple act of lights going on and off ratchets up the suspense each time a different child inexplicably disappears. The lack of a solid resolution may frustrate some viewers, but the tense journey we take to get there is  well worth it.

Moment most likely to induce brick labor
11:47 isn't that scary, but you really do feel for the one and only likable character once it becomes apparent that she's about to die.






6. The Sleepover




Plot
Keeping with the theme of putting children in mortal danger, a pair of kids at a sleepover argue back and forth about whether or not the legend of a community's "slasher" is real.

As you might have guessed, he is. But that also means that the way people prepare and react to one might be a little different in this world, as well...

Why it's great 
Using child actors in a short film, particularly for horror, can often times lead to some pretty bad (and overdone) results. But director Chris Cullari and writer Jennifer Raite managed to find a couple of kids (Josh Feldman and Gus Kamp) who do a great job portraying two sides of the reaction to a possibly true urban legend.

It's also a bit shocking to see a kid get brutally offed, but much of that is dissipated by the film's wry sense of humor, particularly in the way that it ends.

Moment most likely to induce brick labor
3:21--The kid may have been a complete douchebag, but he still didn't deserve to die like that.




5. Blackout





Plot
When a nationwide blackout hits, a group of criminals takes advantage of it to rob an antique warehouse (?). They manage to tie up the inept security guard and even plan to kill him, but something in the dark starts killing the group first.

The heist then becomes a fight for survival as the former hostage and one of his captors must work together to stay alive and escape.

Why it's great 
The cinematography is beautiful, but pretty pictures alone don't make for a good horror movie. But writer/director James Bushe does a masterful job of balancing some great scares sprinkled with a few laughs to create a very entertaining story (that also just manages to clock in at under the 30 minute time limit).

The great chemistry between actors Dan Wheeler and Genna Fodden also helps to make the funny moments (of which there are many) work to enhance the movie's overall atmosphere rather than detract from the terrifying premise.

It's worth noting that the practical creatures effects in this one are absolutely superb...which unfortunately is made even more apparent by the very subpar CGI effects used at the very end of the film.

Moment most likely to induce brick labor
11:37--No way that hell-spawned abomination was going to leave behind such a large meal.




4. Don't Move




Plot
A bunch of attractive British people get together in an apartment and try their luck at summoning forth a demon via ouija board. As you might imagine, this does not go well, bringing forth a murderous creature that can only track its victims by movement (kind of like a hellspawned version of the T-Rex from Jurassic Park).

Each individuals only hope is to stay completely still long enough that the others will move and be brutally slaughtered before them.

Why it's great
The obvious reasons are the incredible creature effects, lighting, and sound design. For a film that was shot on a very low budget, director Anthony Melton was still able to make this thing look like a million bucks.

There is also an undercurrent of subtext and purely human drama played up excellently by Rachel Bright and Jake Hendriks. It all comes together to form one of the best PSA's imaginable for not trying to dabble with black magic. 

Moment most likely to induce brick labor
Probably going to have to go with 10:30 when poor Rachel gets her face ripped off.



3. Luna



Plot
A young girl who witnesses her family get brutally slain by a lone gunman must find a way to survive inside her own house while the killer turns his attention to finding her.

Why it's great
After being successfully funded through Kickstarter, writer/director Antonio Perez didn't just blow the funds on a pimped out food truck and nice business cards. 'Luna' is gorgeously shot and tense right up until its shocking conclusion, which completely flips the film's premise on its head and makes you want to go back and watch it again.

And while actress Arlene Santana might be the most recognizable face to some, Danieal Leon as the film's "victim" does a great job with some very demanding (and brutal) material.

Moment most likely to induce brick labor
9:49--You gotta call for back up quicker than that, sweety.



2. Suckablood



Plot
Suckablood is a fairy tale about a parent cursing their child to be attacked by a demon when she's caught sucking her thumb. But before Social Services can be called, it's already too late...

Why it's great
The story, which was written by directors Ben Tillit and Jake Cuddihy, is engaging enough on it's own. But some amazing prosthetic/make up work combined with a surreal mix of animation and live action shoots help to give the film a truly terrifying ambiance.

Actor Robin Berry's work as the demonic Suckablood is fantastic, but Tillet's narration of the fairy tale is by far the best part out of many different quality aspects that can be found in this film.

For a great behind the scenes look at how the movie was made (and to see Suckablood not being evil while having his make up applied), click here.

Moment most likely to induce brick labor
3:07--Clever girl...




1. 2AM





Plot
Reddit has various forums for just about everything, including one where users share their allegedly true encounters with various creepy and stalkerish folk.

This story by redditor bluetidal entitled The Smiling Man seems like a late night encounter with your run of the mill weirdo at first...until things go from awkwardly uncomfortable to downright terrifying.

Why it's great
Whether this story is true or not, it's incredibly chilling. Michael Evans of Go For Broke Pictures does amazing work with camera angles and sound (both incidental and through the film's score) to create an impending sense of dread that crescendos to a point that we're feeling the same fear as the stories lead character.

The two actors, Sean Simon (Roamer) and Paul Foltz (Smiling Man), are fantastic. Simon never goes into melodrama territory (when he very easily could have), while Foltz brings life to a character that will probably haunt your dreams for a while.

Moment most likely to induce brick labor
2:42 when that creepy bastard starts sprinting.


And there you have it, folks. Hope this makes for some good Halloween season viewing when you're lying awake at night and hear a strange noise outside.

If you feel I missed any, then please leave a comment below. I'd definitely like to see more (when I don't have to work the next morning).

Until then, sweet dreams...




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