Shorts Round Up of the Week: Halloween Horror Month Edition

It’s the Halloween Horror Month Edition of “Shorts Round Up” as I review some of the short films that have hit our inbox from some of the most interesting up and coming filmmakers in cinema. These are five horror short films that you should be on the look out when they premiere in festivals or online very soon.

If you’d like to submit your short film for review consideration, submissions are always opened. 

Birthday Bash (2017)
Colin James manages to capture the aesthetic and mood of the eighties but never the authenticity or energy of the decade. With an opening credits segment and all, “Birthday Bash” is set in Springdale in 1988, where a mental patient has escaped the local asylum. Meanwhile, Kristin is the new girl in town who, to fit in, goes to the party of the popular girl in school Jennifer, with her geeky cousin. There they contend with mean girl Maya, and her friends, but someone is picking off the small array of party guests a la eighties slasher style. “Birthday Bash” is just an okay short film that could have spent a lot more time on editing and performances. The movie has the right eighties rhythm, but the casts performances leave a lot to be desired, in the end.

Father of Lies (2018)
In theory, turning Loki, the trickster god in to a modern horror villain who can deceive and torment people is a very good idea for a movie. It’s just that “Father of Lies” is barely a half hour in length and Shiva Rodriguez’s “Father of Lies,” major hindrance becomes the length. Rodriguez spends about ten minutes establishing the legend of Loki, brings him in to modern times, and introduces a whole slew of new characters that Loki terrorizes in the final half. We barely get to meet the new characters, but we know only the barest information from them.

They’re a family or scavenging group looking for artifacts and come across the cursed Loki. When he’s released finally, he begins looking for the keys that can free his children. The unfortunate people that come across him die in bloody manners. With an hour more, “Father of Lies” could have been an okay horror fantasy. As it stands it’s an okay effort with a good idea that needs some work in the editing department, as well as a ton more exposition on the characters we meet in the second half.

A Handful of Dust (2018)
Grayson Whitehurst’s “A Handful of Dust” is a fantastic short film that I’d love to see made in to a feature someday very soon. Not only is it teeming with suspense and inherent terror, but it’s a wonderful exploration about how evil can manipulate the unsuspecting individual. Atticus Cain is excellent as Dr. Neal Goodman, a man who is an advocate for giving terminally ill patients the right to die how they want, and when they want. When he’s called to help a young terminally ill patient die at the request of her mother, he quickly realizes he’s part of something very sinister. “A Handful of Dust” is a wonderful short film that sucked me in almost immediately and I hope a lot of people check it out very soon. Not only is it creepy, and tense, but it ends on such a demented note that just absolutely shatters the protagonist from head to toe. I hope we can see this in a longer format soon, as it has potential to be a modern “Wicker Man.” T-The original, not the remake. 

High Tea (2017)
It helps that if you’re going to feature a character from your previous movie that you kind of inform the viewer what movie the character is from. Upon researching I learned the maniac in this short is from David Kolenski’s previous short “Blackbags” which I’d never heard of. This pseudo-sequel follows the maniacal Meathead, a killer with a metal mask who holds a girl named Tina hostage. After forcing her in to a cup of tea, he makes her roll a joint for him. If he loves it, she can go, if not, she’s dead. He gives her three ties, to boot. “High Tea” is unpleasant, and not very well made. The sound design is iffy at best, and not much makes sense here. I guess folks that love or remember “Blackbags” will enjoy it more due to context, but I just didn’t enjoy a single minute of it. If anything, Meathead’s mask is pretty cool.

Pappy’s World (2018)
Matt Wisniewski’s short horror film about a killer doll suffers mainly from lack of exposition. I’m not too sure who or what Pappy is, all we do know is that primarily centered on the set up, Pappy appears one morning at the house of an old war veteran. When his grand daughter wakes up early to open her presents, she finds Pappy, and Pappy wants her soul, or body, or revenge. Honestly I was never very clear on what the doll wanted. “Pappy’s World” is a neat concept that would work better with a bigger budget and longer format film, as the short itself feels more like a proof of concept than anything. In either case, the redeeming elements are the politically incorrect gags, the fun acting, and the creepy final scene. “Pappy’s World” has a fun grit and edge to like “Black Devil Doll,” and I hope we can see more from Pappy soon and learn more about him and his supernatural powers.