Nightmare Fuel Shorts Block [Brooklyn Horror Film Festival 2023]

This year’s the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival kicks off at the Nitehawk theater, and they premiered one of their trio of short film blocks. “Nightmare Fuel” is one of their absolute best with eight memorable horror entries from all over the world.

Alicia (2023)
I really hope we can see more from Director and Writer Tony Morales down the road, because “Alicia” is a short but sweet horror tale that packs a wallop. Mom Carolina has to deal with the childhood fears of her daughter Alicia, who has just gone blind. Alicia believes that an old woman lives in her room and is making her blind. “Alicia” is, again, a short but sweet horror tale with some great direction, and a compact story that gets right to the gut punch of the ending. I was kind of expecting the final scene, but Morales’ ace direction still manages to deliver a punch that will startle viewers efficiently. I wanted so much more but I thoroughly enjoyed the short horror jolt, all the same. 

Leech (2023)
George Coley’s horror film is disturbing and disgusting. And when you think about it even more, it’s more disgusting and disturbing. It’s not just because of how spooky his film is, but how plausible his premise is. Mary is a blind old woman who lives alone. Or at least she thinks, as a man has taken residence in her home without her knowledge. When a new care worker arrives at her flat to check up on her, he begins to investigate the traces of the person residing in Mary’s home. “Leech” is downright creepy because instances like it have happened so many times. There have been countless cases where people have unwittingly been housing someone hiding in their attics, or crawlspaces for months on end. “Leech” will definitely stick with you… and have you checking the empty crevices in your home.

Mosquito Lady (2023)
Written, Directed, and Producer Kristine Gerolaga’s short horror film is an ever relevant and sad horror tale about desperate measures performed by a young girl. Gemma is a teenage girl whose pregnancy has created a rift between her and her conservative Filipino parents. Anxious to terminate the pregnancy, she seeks out the mythical Mosquito Lady, a monster that sucks the blood from pregnant women which murders the unborn baby. Gemma ventures out to find the Mosquito Lady to perform the act of sucking the child of its blood, but events spiral out of control. While the film does have the horror element, and a wonderfully grotesque monster punctuated by excellent make up, “Mosquito Lady” is so much more about teen pregnancy, and the concept of abortions that still can create rifts in many families. It’s a worthwhile and compelling horror short with an ambiguous final scene. 

My Scary Indian Wedding (2023)
Ramone Menon’s horror entry is a fast moving and very creepy race against time for an unfortunate and unlucky bridesmaid who has to perform a series of rituals for a cunning demon known as the Manglik. Asha, as played by Misha Molani, is given a cursed app by a white bride that sadly conjures up the Manglik. Before Sunrise, Asha must complete tasks and commit to a marriage or else her soul is to be consumed. The constant jumps to the demon along with the wonderful make up allow Manglik to become a very horrifying monster that is not only relentless, but absolutely clever in its deceitfulness. Asha is incapable of really settling down to comprehend her dire circumstances, and things just go from bad to worse over the course of her night. Ramone Menon’s film is a real gem and I look forward to seeing more from him soon.

The Queue (2023)
With the internet you open up a portal in to your life where you not only venture in to a world, but you also invite it in to your own reality. “The Queue” from Michael Rich is a disturbing and brutally scary take on voyeurism, our fascination with violence, and the cruelty we’re capable of simply because. Burt Bulos is Cole a recovering alcoholic who takes a job as an internet content moderator tasked with filtering out videos that are pornographic and or too graphic. But as soon as morbid curiosity and fascination gets the better of him, he digs a rabbit hole that pits him against horrifying monsters, and the worst of what humans are capable of. “The Queue” excels because the message is relevant, and very volatile, while the delivery is absolutely haunting. 

Ride Baby Ride (2023)
Director and Writer Sofie Somoroff’s horror short is confined to one space but manages to create not only a hellish setting, but also a horrifying villain to boot. Celina Bernstein is great as a young mechanic who purchases a 1978 Camaro. Deciding to test it, she realizes too late that the car is a beast of a machine that has a mind of its own. “Ride Baby Ride” is a great and darkly comic horror short that exaggerates but has fun with the concept of owning a new car, and the history that can come with buying classic and vintage hot rods. For better or worse, Bernstein’s character is stuck with the Camaro, and it’s either her or the car that’ll win out. “Ride Baby Ride” is well directed, beautifully edited, and is carried well by star Bernstein.

Stop Dead (2023)
Emily Greenwood’s short film is worth a jolt or two, but suffers from a incoherent premise, sadly. The whole set up and atmosphere is there and competent enough, but everything else is so inexplicable and under explained that once I was certain I knew where this was all going, the credits began rolling, and I was confused. For the most part Emily Greenwood’s film is very well directed, and engages in some chaotic horror, but the whole concept is not utilized too well, leaving us on what feels like a plot that is pretty much just left dangling there without actual clarity. It’s too bad, as I like the idea behind “Stop Dead.” 

The Wyrm of Bwlch Pen Barras (2023)
Writer/director Craig Williams’ Welsh-language short film is a disturbing bit of horror that excels by what is mostly suggested, but is hindered by its mostly cryptic premise and delivery, sadly. While the build up to what is a bleak ending and the suggestion that this is only a cycle of what has probably occurred for hundreds of years, Williams’ movie will likely leave a lot of audiences scratching their heads and somewhat befuddled when it has closed. Much of “The Wyrm of Bwlch Pen Barras” is based around implications of what has become a ritual for this village likely for centuries, and the deed to feed an ancient being that’s likely benefiting from these sacrifices without any chance of being repelled or satisfied. It’s a fine short film, but one that could have benefited from more explanation and a little less ambiguity.

The 2023 Brooklyn Horror Film Festival runs from October 12th through October 19th at the Nitehawk Cinema Screens #1 and #2.