Synonymous With

An achingly beautiful love letter to the ‘other’.

Synopsis: A student’s increasingly intimate line of questioning causes his interview with a local horror host to take a vulnerable turn.

Told through a mixture of photo collage, archive clips and interview segments, Synonymous With is built on the conversations between largely unseen interviewer Jackson Weil (Thom Hilton) and former public access television host Syn (Remy Germinario). As the first Halloween without Syn’s TVKTV13 show Synister Synema with Myster Synonymous looms, a local film student looks to uncover more about the man behind the persona.

At only 12 minutes long, Synonymous With contains a wealth of emotive material, wearing its fondness for horror on its sleeve as well as delving into why those in the LGBTQ+ community and others who find themselves outside of the ‘norm’ discover solace in horror. Early in the film, Syn draws attention to the idea that popular people didn’t ‘need’ his public access channel, but those who found it were able to be ‘unknown, together’ in one of the film’s most touching sentiments. That sense of being an outsider, especially in a queer context and finding some kind of communal experience is one the film handles with particular skill and empathy.

Collaged photos deliver a definite sense of space, drawing on that wonderful small town Halloween feel of crunchy leaves, chilly weather and quirky decorations. The camera initially feels static, situating Syn as small, dwarfed by his persona, the world and the horror posters surrounding him. The increasing fluidity of the camera starts to allow him more space in which he is the central figure and focus of the attention. This stylistic shift assists in the building of their rapport but with a largely unspoken tension bubbling. Germinario makes for a charming screen presence, wearing vulnerability, quiet anger and a range of other emotions as the interviews progress. As the pair continue to converse, that uncomfortable early, almost parasocial intimacy begins to unwind. Their relationship is delicately built, readdressing boundaries and reframing roles in a way that is difficult not to be swept along with.

The crafting of the Synister Synema segments is excellent, with a playful camp at its centre in both the props, staging and Syn’s commentary. There is an authenticity in that low budget presentation of people being left to create for themselves and others like them, rather than trying to approach the mainstream. As much as this functions as an ode to the horror genre and its hosts, there is also a deeply held affection for the spaces that allow them to be unpolished and ungoverned, even if it is that very quality that means they may disappear without trace. That liminality of not knowing who (if anyone) is watching and if it is important to them is a deeply affecting idea.

I don’t mind saying that I have cried every single time I have watched this quiet, delicate film. The disarming vulnerability and striking beauty of finding light in darkness is a truly romantic one: a meditation on the power of being seen.

You can now watch Synonymous With on Vimeo.


Grainy, aged visuals frame a surreal, disturbing snippet of domestic life in this short film.

Synopsis: “Being woken by a newborn is one thing………what to do with it? That’s quite another”

Finding itself somewhere between a Chris Morris Jam sketch and the offbeat work of Yorgos Lanthimos, BabyThump manages to establish an uneasy tone and take the viewer on a disturbing journey within the space of 10 minutes.

BabyThump sets itself apart by its opening moments, with the deliberately aged look of the film, stilted performance style and staticky sound design. Marie (Kathryn O’Reilly) and Donny (Derek Elwood) find themselves in an unusual situation when they are awoken by strange crying and struggle to come to terms with the source of the sound. As expected, sound plays a large role here, in both the crying that disrupts the otherwise quiet, consistent static that introduces the film. Silence plays as much of a role as the sound, allowing for elongated pauses that O’Reilly and Elwood excellently lean into.

The strange beats of the initial performances give way to more powerful things left unsaid, allowing a long, static shot of both actors to leave the lasting impression. The subject matter means this won’t be for everyone, although it shows a great deal of restraint without losing out on the more disturbing elements. Certainly the brevity of the piece raises some questions about its overall aim, but the stylistic choices employed here work better in the shorter format than they would extended beyond it.

Director and writer Ian Killick has constructed a tonally confident, uneasy work that takes a simple idea and puts it in a short, unsettling package.

Fantasia 2020: Don’t Text Back

Synopsis: A woman seeks the help of an energy healer to rid herself of a cursed necklace that strangles her every time she doesn’t text back her bad Tinder date.

Don’t Text Back is a whip-smart short film based on writing/directing duo Kaye Adelaide and Mariel Sharp’s frustrations with hearing dating horror stories from their friends who deserve much better. In less than 15 minutes, this comedy -horror offers an interesting idea, supported by the dynamic between the two leads.

Kelly (Danielle Lapointe) goes to visit energy healer (and graphic designer) Jaren (Nancy Webb) to try and rid herself of an unusual problem. Following a terrible Tinder date, a necklace has been delivered to her and now every time the man from the date texts her and she avoids texting back, the chain tightens around her neck. As a horror concept, it is a great one – visually unpleasant enough without being too disruptive. Lapoint and Webb are brilliant, taking full control of the sparky, punchy dialogue. Webb’s new-age type and Lapoint’s more neurotic character bounce off one another in a way that is a joy to watch.

The set dressing is perfect, with plenty of new-age elements around the brightly-lit room. There are moments of affectionate critique of those methods with the ‘guy problems crystal’ serving as an excellent visual gag. That combination of verbal barbs and visual jokes keeps everything moving at a steady pace. The skewering of MRA groups has just enough teeth to make the criticism feel worthwhile without souring the overall tone. All this set to a soundtrack from crypop performer Strangerfamiliar makes the whole film feel stylish and cohesive.

You can watch Don’t Text Back as part of Fantasia 2020 playing alongside Bleed With Me.

Deadly Scare

Deadly Scare uses all of its low budget to create this charming mix of humour and horror.

Synopsis: Armed with passion for scares and a film crew, Mike Wiener is ready to show the world the intricacies of horror as a profession. Shame the film crew wont be making any more movies.’ ‘Deadly Scare’ is a mockumentary style horror comedy following the main character Mike (Radi Nikolov) descending in for the next kill while maintaining a horror escape room.

Deadly Scare is a short film of two halves, leading with a comedic interview with scare actor Mike. Mike (played by writer/director Radi Nikolov) is keen to show the documentarians the daily schedule of his work in the escape room. The dry humour involved in his introduction sets the audience up to see Mike as something of a buffoon. There are some well-pitched comedic moments with ‘the thing in the basement’ being a highlight.

This set up allows the film to play with those expectations as the film progresses. The turn from light comedy to darker material is abrupt and while this is effective in terms of shock value, there could be some benefit in having a longer, development from the comic to the macabre to enhance the sense of tension.

The location is excellent, with the photography enhancing the small space throughout. The set dressing is notably done on a budget, but the film works to its strengths. Hanging masks provide an opportunity for a simple but impactful scare. Despite having a runtime of under 8 minutes and a quick switch in tone early on, this isn’t a film in a rush, extending later scenes to draw out the horror of the situation.

Aside from a few missteps in pacing, Deadly Scare works well, utilising numerous quite sophisticated techniques to produce a film that hits both comic and darker notes.

Final Girls Berlin Film Festival: Queer Horror Shorts Block

This post is part of a larger series of reviews focused on films showing at the Final Girls Berlin Film Festival. You can see more about the festival on their website. Not all shorts have been available for review outside of the festival environment so the website listings may include more films than are included in this post.

Horror has always had a relationship with queerness, however it is debatable how healthy that relationship has been. With Shudder looking to follow the immensely successful Horror Noire (exploring black horror) with a currently untitled queer horror documentary it seems like it is time for more LGBT voices to make the horror genre a home. The films in this block are a mixture of overt LGBT themes and/or films made by LGBT creatives.


Directed by Audrey Rosenberg, USA, 2019

Skin is a beautiful film that uses fairytale-like tropes to tell a story about self-discovery and acceptance. The arrival of a period hastens an already developing dysphoria for Charlie (Rhys Fehrenbacher). Coupled with bullying at school the difficult feelings drive Charlie to an increasingly androgynous appearance and increasing attempts to escape, separating them from their family. During one bathtime, Charlie is witness to another world, that may just hold what they have always wanted. I would hate to spoil this for anyone as it truly is delivered wonderfully, with an empathetic performance from Fehrenbacher, that I don’t think my words could do it justice. The horror comes from the uncanny nature of what is found, rather than the finding being scary in itself. The film features an incredibly emotional conversation between Charlie and their mother that indicates a level of hope for the future.

Tea Parties Are For Babies

Directed by Teja LoBreglio, USA, 2019, International Premiere

Tea Parties Are For Babies uses a burgeoning relationship between two women to create an Alice in Wonderland-style tale with a difference. Freshman Emily is watching a couple take part in some enthusiastic PDA in a park when she is approached by Bunny – a beautiful woman who knew her from school. Bunny wants to draw Emily out of her shell and offers to take her to a night club. The film employs flashing, disorientating lights and close-up shots to emphasise the intimate nature of the club and their escalating relationship. Motifs like butterflies feature as symbols of potential rebirth and acceptance into a new world in addition to flashbacks of a young girl’s tea party. The resultant finale feels a little out-of-nowhere but is well-handled enough that it works. As a story about leaving a previous life behind in favour of something more darkly seductive, it is undoubtedly successful.


Directed by BJ Colangelo, USA, 2019, European Premiere

Labrys uses a symbol rich in meaning for lesbian communities to create a film about powerfully claiming an identity and making a new start. Leenie (Venchise Glenn) and Jill (Madison Woods) are on their first date when they are rudely interrupted by a man (referred to within the film as Captain Cheesefries due to him repeatedly offering his cheese fries to them, even after they have declined). The ensuing row causes them to leave the bar and there is a heartfelt conversation between the two, Leenie, who is only recently out, recounts that she feels that meeting Jill has been like someone has taken pages from her diary and made them into a person. The two have excellent chemistry that gives the film a lot of heart. Later, a more serious encounter with the man from the bar turns into something incredibly unexpected. Backed up with some great looking effects the surprise is carried off well – I won’t reveal any more so I can’t spoil the surprise. This is an engaging tale with plenty of character.

Blood Orange

Directed by Aliya Haq, USA, 2018, German Premiere

Blood Orange uses a heavily stylised, vibrant colour scheme to create a fashionable juice bar that becomes a world of its own in this interesting short that builds to an excellent reveal. Angela (Shara McGlinn) works at Vitals – a juice bar dealing in faddy juices, especially the Blood Orange. Angela has designs on leaving her small town to move on to greater success, but her friend Em is concerned by this. As Angela increasingly ignores her surroundings in favour of her potential future, she is placed in danger. The reveal is cleverly unwound with the aid of some excellent effects that give this a real feeling of uncanny horror. Superbly confident in its design and the way it unravels throughout director Aliya Haq has a highly skilled eye for creating a space and story that is both engaging and striking.

Destruction Makes The World Burn Brighter

Directed by Kalen Artinian, Produced by Claire Allore, Brendon Whelton, Alexandria Benoit, Canada, 2019

Destruction Makes The World Burn Brighter is a punchy short that takes the ‘what would you do for your partner’ question to extremes. The film takes place in a dystopian environment where food is scarce, likely due to damage caused by industry. Repeated shots of towers pumping out thick smoke cement the idea that there is something wrong with the atmosphere. It is clear that Destruction has been made on a relatively small budget and this is a good example of successful stripped-back storytelling. The muted colours and views of industrial skyline add to the overall mood of the film. Eve (Alexandra Benoit – also a co-writer on the project) is seen caring for her girlfriend Jane (Keeya King) in their flat. With little to no dialogue, King and Benoit have good physical chemistry, essential in a short of this length to add emotional weight. On a trip out of the flat, Eve is unable to obtain any other food and so returns to take drastic action. While the majority of this action takes place off-screen, the effects that are seen are of good quality. There are hints at a wider story that could be built upon but also functions perfectly as a snapshot of love and desperation.

Lone Wolf

Directed by January Jones, Australia, 2019, European Premiere

Sam is a 15-year-old girl attending a sleepover, trying to ignore her growing feelings for her friend Willow, cruel taunts from mean-girl Blair and battling against changes within her body. The four actresses involved are very natural in terms of their delivery – it feels like teenagers talking to one another, rather than an adult’s perceptions of how teenagers speak. Sam’s arrival at Willow’s house quickly turns sour when she finds that Willow and Blair are at the poolside. Sam’s self-consciousness about her body makes this an uncomfortable experience, made worse by Blair’s repeated sniping. Sam’s issues escalate throughout the evening before reaching a surprising conclusion. The film takes a relatively simple concept and turns it into a metaphor for feeling different and isolated, delivering some quirky effects to further the message. After the frankly adorable punchline to this film, I could not wipe the grin from my face.

The shorts within this block use horror as a perfect way to express feelings of difference (and the fear/uncertainty of that difference) with an emphasis on the need to find and embrace identity. Many of these shorts also enhance the importance of finding acceptance and love within that identity. While the tone of delivery and stylistic choices differ hugely, these are exciting shorts from exciting voices.

Creepy Christmas Fest Part Two

Part One of my mini-reviews of the films making up the 2018 Creepy Christmas Fest advent calendar is available here. This will feature shorts 13 through 25. You can watch all the films in the calendar here.

December 13th – a little late – Unwanted Houseguest

13 – lucky for some, including music artist Unwanted Houseguest who showcases a relatively catchy song over some VHS-quality aesthetics. It seems so far that music videos are a popular entry for the format which makes sense considering the lack of time to pull together a narrative in a more traditional way.

December 14th – Miss Millie – Chris Skotchdopole

One of the longest entries so far, Miss Millie is a story of an increasingly desperate singleton who goes to extreme measures for the company of their repair man over the Christmas period. Lighter in tone than the synopsis suggests, this was a fun festive entry into the calendar with two solid central performances.

December 15th – Wild Ride – Larry Fessenden

An action figure elf is engaged in a project to build a sleigh, featuring cameos from some spooky toy counterparts. This has a great sense of fun and a frenetic energy from the animation – enjoyable all round.

December 16th – Under the Christmas Tree – Jenn Wexler

A great performance by child actor Anastasia Veronica Lee is the centre of this story of a young girl deciding to prove that Santa is real to her disinterested mother. The production and design on this looks excellent and it feels like a fully formed story.

December 17th – Ms Claus – Graham Reznick

Another experimental stop-motion entry into the calendar – Ms Claus features some intriguing visuals, but perhaps the best part of it is the score. Happily, the score can be downloaded here. A heads up that this features some scenes which may cause issues with photosensitive epilepsy.

December 18th – Wrapped – Lower East Side Girls Club

A very quirky and fun entry from some young filmmakers about how stealing can haunt you. It is clear from the near-laughter of some of the performances that a huge amount of fun was had making this. The effects are well-realised for a limited budget and it seems like a great experience for the girls. Hopefully, this experience will lead them into further creative works with the Girls Club.

December 19th – Love, Cheryl – Devin Febbroriello

The longest entry thus far (14 minutes) and it really fills the run time with atmosphere, great visuals and some excellent comic acting. The extra time allows for some more involved world and concept building which leads to a satisfying pay-off.

December 20th – Night Before – Susan kae Grant, Richard Klein and Richard Krall

While basing the start of the film on ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ seems like a simple idea the presentation of the illustrations within the book is really well-executed. However, the latter part loses me somewhat – the look is still strong, focusing on shadow and light, but even after a few viewings, I’m not entirely sure what it is meant to represent.

December 21st – Don’t Come Back Without Presents – JT Petty

Santa being transformed into a more sinister figure has been a popular horror-Christmas trope and this short plays on that to reasonable effect. Using the sparse, arid setting of the desert makes it look very different as it abandons familiar snowy, colourfully lit scenes. The two leads, despite their young age carry the short well.

December 22nd – The Stocking Stuffer – Phantom Limb Company

An interesting stop-motion short full of different textures and some eerie sounds, along with a small political bite at its climax. All the more impressive in that it was filmed using an iPhone.

December 23rd – Two Late Elves – Joy + Noelle

Not a great deal of horror in this one, aside from the very real fear of procrastination from necessary tasks in favour of nicer, more comfortable things. A cute little animation though.

December 24th – Cookies for Candy Claws – Aurelio Voltaire

The gentle home-making/story-telling show gets a dramatic goth makeover in the Christmas Eve entry. Nothing too dark here, but plenty of fun with great design.

December 25th – Happy Horror Days! – Sydney Clara Brafman

The final entry is a great bookend for the entire advent, including as its central concept a Christmas tree adorned with baubles featuring various horror scenes. Of course, all of it is overseen by the angel on top of the tree in the form of a fun cameo.

Overall, there were some hits and misses throughout the advent which appears to largely be the result of a filmmaker receiving perhaps a vague prompt word or one that they are not quite comfortable with and the obvious restrictions that low budgets bring. However, there is enough ambition and attempts to do interesting things that the experiment is certainly a success.

Sheffield’s Short Shockers

Check out that alliteration right there…I think I may have spent all of my remaining creativity on that alone.  As most readers will know I spent Friday through Sunday at Celluloid Screams in Sheffield – a task that involved a three and a half hour drive each side of the festivities and during I was of course indulging in a few drinks.  I’d say it’s practically impossible not to during a festival.  As a result of all this I’ve spent much of my time since Monday morning tired, emotional and even a tiny bit unbalanced so this has taken a little longer than first anticipated.  I wanted to write about some short films I saw at the festival, as I hardly see short films and so don’t really review them that much.  There were some really strong shorts at Celluloid and sadly I didn’t see them all, so this is limited to being a personal overview rather than any exhaustive look at all of them.  I’m disappointed I missed Fist of Jesus from the team behind bat-shit insane Brutal Relax as it was shown during the all-nighter but hopefully will catch up with that one.  So without further non-short-related rambling I’ll make a start.

Lot 254 – Toby Meakins – UK – 2012 – 3mins

One of the shortest shorts on offer, coming in at only 3 minutes, this film featured a haunted camera that allowed the user to see things through the viewfinder that they could not see in reality.  Sadly, this one did very little for me, despite a solid attempt at creating something spooky, but I think the lack of time to allow things unfold let it down as there is a shortage of real tension.  Had this one had more time, I’m sure I would have ended up on the edge of my seat.  For some wider perspective though, this received an honorary mention in the judging of best shorts, so likely it worked for others.




The Last Video Store – Tim Rutherford & Cody Kennedy – Canada – 2013 – 10mins

This short was far more up my street, featuring some great effects by Manborg’s Steven Kostanski and injecting some comedy into proceedings.  A delivery man is tasked with ensuring a package gets to a video store, where he finds an eccentric owner eager to discuss the virtues of VHS over digital means.  He also warns that there are nefarious methods being used, causing video stores to be decimated by a golden video tape that causes VHS machinery to turn against its owner and reap destruction upon other non-digital formats.  The owner and the delivery man find themselves pitted against a monster made from tape, packing laughs, gore and plenty of references into its 10-minute time slot.

Invocation – Robert Morgan – UK – 2013: 3mins

Stop-motion animation has featured in a great deal of horror shorts – none so more than in the hilarious film parodies and original works by Lee Hardcastle, who was presenting his show reel in Sheffield.  However, it is rare (for me at least) to see stop-motion animation used alongside live action actors.  This is exactly what Morgan’s Invocation does in its portrayal of a stop-motion directing session gone very wrong.  Coming in at just 3 minutes the short does much to cut straight to the gory chase after warming up with some zoom shots of the teddy bear subject’s expression being manipulated.  What follows is a gory, satisfactory and cyclical piece of work that maintains a fast pace and some great imagery.




Butterflies – Isabel Peppard – Australia – 2013 – 12mins

This is possibly the most beautiful short I have ever seen.  The animation and puppetry is some of the most expressive and thoughtful work, giving the characters a grounded, yet magical appearance.  The subject matter is incredibly interesting too, considering how art and commerciality do not always go hand in hand and the trauma that some artists can go through when their work does not make money, yet their talents are forced into monotonous, yet technically-sound productions.  The best thing I can say about it is that I was genuinely sad when it came to an end as I really could have watched a feature-length version.

Shellshocked – Dominic Brunt – UK – 2013 – 12mins

Introduced by Brunt himself as the total opposite to his feature Before Dawn where the zombie apocalypse is told simply through the impact on an ordinary couple, Shellshocked introduces zombies into a World War II setting as both a British and German soldier find themselves underground, guns focused on one another, both waiting for the other to attack.  As they spend more time together, they appear to soften, offering one another chocolate and cigarettes despite the language barrier.  It seems that the story takes a great deal from the real story of the ceasefire on Christmas Day during World War II where soldiers took a break from shooting at one another to play a game of football, only to return to combat the following day.  That touching and tragic event weighs heavily on the short as it examines the capability of humans to adapt, overcome but also the consequences for breaking someone’s trust.

The Root of the Problem – Ryan Spindell – USA – 2013 – 13mins

Personal confession time: I’ve never had a fear of the dentist.  This means that a lot of dental-related horror is sort of lost on me (now laser eye surgery or something…yeah I’d squirm like you wouldn’t believe) so maybe this one didn’t have as much of an impact on me as it did for others.  While the construction of the dated dental office (fitting it’s 1950s setting) is good and sets the scene for the horror to come it is really the performances that make this short, with all three turning in wonderful performances that can be so hard to find in short films.  One actress is even limited to mostly mumbling, but manages to convey her move from general unease to total terror solidly and convincingly.  The tooth fairy mythology is something that despite fitting well within the genre has been relatively rarely explored so is nice to see a short tackle it.




Cat Sick Blues – Dave Jackson – Australia – 2013 – 10mins

When I first read the description for this one it was probably one of the only ones to instantly creep me out.  People wearing masks are always fuel for nightmares and the idea of being followed home is an incredibly real and horrible one – even if that person isn’t wearing a cat mask.  It is an incredibly effective short, featuring a couple who stop to offer help and a kind word to a man passed out on the beach.  However, their kindness is unrewarded as the man enters their house.  There are a few comic moments arising from the surreal situation, but this is soon abandoned for a far darker tone that fits and leaves the short in your mind for much longer.

The Guest – Jovanka Vuckovic – Canada – 2013 – 4mins

Another shorter film which throws the viewer into a situation in progress – offering very little background or context aside from a man who appears conversing with an unseen voice in a mirror about the deal he has made.  It soon transpires that the man has killed his wife and daughter – a fact illustrated by a bleached out, haunting cutaway to images of his wife and child holding out severed hearts.  It is impressively shot with that fantastic imagery really lingering in the mind.

Angst, Piss and Drid – Fredrik Hana – Norway – 2012 – 19mins

Angst, Piss and Drid won the prize for best short at Sheffield and while certainly competently directed and suitably dark subject matter handled I was surprised that it did.  This may just be my Butterflies bias creeping in of course but that was really the only short that totally blew me away.  Angst, Piss and Drid is exceptionally dark – the sort of film you think you need a wash after watching, as would be expected for a film that chronicles the relationship between two serial killers.  However, we only see the male of the couple continuing to kill, while the female stays at home, cradling body parts in plastic bags and obviously finding a disconnect with her partner, regularly lashing out at him.  Their previous exploits together are shown via old film footage, featuring the two torturing and dismembering a victim, but the film grading makes it appear as a fond family home video – a return to happier times.  The film is relentlessly gritty, never allowing an out for the audience or encouraging enjoyment.

Eden – Todd Cobery – USA – 2012 – 14mins

Some shorts are films by themselves, with beginnings, middles and ends not dissimilar to their feature-length counterparts.  However, others are obviously used as pitches toward a feature-length version and I believe this is the case with Eden.  There is no exposition or real background provided for the strange goings-on, the panic, rioting or the terrorism as all of these things would be difficult to explore fully in such a short time.  As a result of this lack of background however, I found myself confused and unable to enjoy it as much as some of the others.  Of course, this could also be that I do struggle to hold an interest in sci-fi, which this appeared to be for the most part, with the horror as an addition to the dystopia.  In saying that though, the short is glossy and thrilling, making me wonder what could be done with the idea in a feature-length medium so if it was indeed a pitch, then mission accomplished.




Hell No – Joe Nicolosi – USA – 2013 – 3mins

One of the only shorts that was exclusively a comedy, acting as a trailer for a horror film in which good characters make smart decisions, playing on a variety of horror tropes that have had genre audiences screaming at the screen for decades.  A particular highlight for me is a cheerleader who approaches another student to ask if he wants to break into an abandoned building and play with a Ouija board, only for him to respond with a deadpan “No, no I don’t.”  The different scenes are intercut with reviewer quotes like ‘Kind of…anticlimactic’ and feature a voiceover typical to horror trailers.  Despite playing with these tropes to a hardened horror audience who is aware of them all Hell No got a great deal of laughs all the way through which is a great indication of its quality and how it hits all of the right notes for the jokes.

Delicacy – Jason Mann – USA/UK – 2013 – 11mins

An interesting little short that constantly manages to balance the comic, the ridiculous and the downright sinister throughout.  The film features a grumpy food critic who bemoans the fact that he hasn’t tasted anything exciting since 1991 and the chef who feeds him a mystery meat in order to prove him wrong.  However, when the chef can’t resist snatching the meat for himself it becomes clear that the meat is addictive and highly regarded.  Never has a short film changed so quickly with one word as in this film as the meat is revealed to be from a mythical creature.  I won’t spoil it as the delivery of the reveal is so wonderfully funny and strange it really needs to be seen.  The remainder of the film follows the pair as they go on a hunt for more meat with a virgin female leader and utilises the woods well in its balance between mundane nature and something far more fantastical.

Awake – Francisco Sonic Kim – USA – 2013 – 10mins

Another entry into the ‘children are creepy as all hell’ section of the horror genre that probably keeps the birth rate amongst horror fans relatively low.  The film drops us into the lives of parents of a young boy who is unable to sleep and have adapted their lives so one member of the couple is awake with him at all times.  The boy has a scar on the side of his head that bleeds from underneath its dressing and appears to be from some sort of surgery, likely to determine the cause for his lack of sleep.  However, the child is prone to violent outbursts and after striking his mother, heads off into the woods.  This is another film I would be interested in seeing a feature length version of, with more exploration of the boy’s condition and also the parent’s attempts to cope as the short does not quite have the creep factor that it could for me, although there is a solid and frightening idea behind it.




The Body – Paul Davis – UK – 2013 – 19mins

Last year Davis’ short Him Indoors was a real favourite of mine, packing in horror, comedy and a healthy dose of irony and Davis has used the same package here to great effect once again.  The Body follows a serial killer (played wonderfully by Alfie Allen who maintains a quiet, yet confident and sinister manner throughout) who uses Halloween to transport the body of his latest victim.  However, he is stopped by some people who are attending a costume party and want him to bring along his fantastic costume with them.  The short fits wonderfully within its time frame, with no wasted time and closing off the story at an appropriate point, showing that Davis has a real grasp of pacing.  I’m very interested to see if he will make the transition from shorts to features at some point and can safely say I’d buy my ticket in advance.


So there’s my view on a selection of shorts from Celluloid Screams 2013.  Pretty soon I’ll be getting some full reviews of a few features that should go up over at but will keep people posted on that. Hayley is also sorting out more of our videos from the festival.  Twitter, as always is @caitlynmdowns