Shorts Round Up of the Week – 3/4/19

For the March 4th edition of “Shorts Round Up of the Week” we have a drug drama, an animated romance, and a few very good horror thrillers.

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

The Candlelight Witch (2018)
One from the Midnight Video Youtube Channel, director Becca Flinn-White’s short horror tale is a great little spooky story and a wonderful proof of concept. I genuinely would love to see what happens after this short. Babysitter Trish (if my babysitters looked like her, I’d have encouraged my parents to go out so much more when I was a child) is sitting with two kids and they’re telling scary stories one especially creepy night in their makeshift tent. When Trish goes to make popcorn for the kids, suddenly they realize their tale of a witch that chooses her victims might have some basis of truth to it. With ace direction by Becca Flinn-White, along with excellent cinematography and beautiful plays with shadows and natural light, “The Candlelight Witch” is a perfect tale for Halloween I’d love to see become a movie someday.

Mikus (2018)
Just because you forget about your childhood friends, it doesn’t mean that they forgot about you. Director and writer Todd Spence and Zak White’s award winning short horror film is a creepy offering that relies on slow but steady build up. Pete is wrapping up his childhood stuff and decides to hang up his man size drawing of his friend Mikus. The problem with Mikus is that the drawing won’t stay taped to the wall. “Mikus,” from the Midnight Video Youtube Channel, has no dialogue, and almost no soundtrack, but when the final scene hits, it’s quite a great jolt. I strongly recommend it.

Next/Door (2015)
Director Nathan Suher’s thriller is a very good albeit demented tale about a man’s absolutely disgusting fantasy that begins to consume him. Otto is a lonely man who is in love with his next door neighbor. When he hears her and her husband fighting one night, he finds her alone shot and bleeding to death. He then drags her back to his house where he proceeds to use the opportunity to finally make her his and no one else’s. Though this has shades of “Nekromantik,” thankfully Suher never digs any deeper than he has to, relying more on uncomfortable scenes than gore and grue. The heart of the movie is David Ryan Kopcych, whose performance is non-threatening enough to make him a very menacing antithesis to the common protagonist. “Next/Door” is a solid thriller with a neat concept.

The Lake (2018)
Filmmaker Gunner’s animated mystery is a short but very good look at how something so simple can become immense. A mix of 3D animation and stop motion, “The Lake” centers on an unnamed swimmer who sneaks in to a lake one night. Deciding to swim in the nude, the swimmer dives in to the water, has his adventure, and calls it a night. What seems like a simple adventure then becomes something wondrous but also incredibly ominous. The swimmer may also not be able to tell anyone what they’ve seen, either. “The Lake” is beautifully animated and a great silent film based around expression and a small color palette of black, and blues with a bold white emphasis on the character’s eye. I recommend it.

Pusher (2018)
Andi Morrow should be a big star, like a huge star. She’s managed to turn in some stunning performances based around what I’ve seen from her. From “Here Lies Joe” to the wonderful and relevant “Pusher,” she’s an actress to look out for. Morrow stars in, writes and directs the very topical and gripping drama about an Appalachian town gripped by the Opioid crisis. While “Pusher” could fall in to the trap about gangsters, and criminals, Morrow’s drama is more about regrets, and how this town filled primarily with impoverished people have fallen victim to a horrendous addiction that is destroying their lives.

And there simply isn’t much of a way out for most of them. Morrow is great as Brittany a dealer and pusher that has finally reached a crossroads in her life and is anxiously trying to find an exit from the misery she’s inflicted. Most her time is spent on self-reflection and regret; now she’s at a point where it’s time to fix everything she’s destroyed. “Pusher” is a drama that will definitely spark some fascinating conversations, and is a surefire display of what kind of presence Morrow brings to film.

Two Balloons (2017)
From director Mark C. Smith comes the tale of two lemurs that navigate their barges in the sky halfway around the world. When they accidentally cross paths in the middle of a midnight sail, the pair of lemurs begins to trade notes and roses thanks to the help of their friendly dove. But when a storm promises to challenge their love, they have to fight to stay together. A metaphor for romance and the turbulence of life, “Two Balloons” is beautifully animated, building a world before us that’s both wondrous and absolutely harrowing from beginning to end. The animation is absolutely fantastic as director and writer Smith is able to convey a touching and sweet tale through absolutely zero dialogue and excellent use colors. I loved the general aesthetic of “Two Balloons” as it often felt very much like a Studio Ghibli production in spirit. I wouldn’t mind seeing something in a larger scale someday very soon.