'Tolulope Ajayi, Adeyemi Okanlowan, Blake Fraser, Blink, David Schmidt, Demon, Dennis Frymire, George Herpick, Georgina Haig, Horror, Idol Threats, Kim Rodriguez, Mark Pound, Michelle Courvais, Nightmares, Oliver Park, Open House, Rachel Winters, Recon 6, Richard Rodriguez, Short movies, South Africa, Vicious
The short movie is an oft-neglected aspect of movie viewing these days, with fewer outlets available to the makers of short movies, and certainly little chance of their efforts being seen in our local multiplexes (the exceptions to these are the animated shorts made to accompany the likes of Pixar’s movies, the occasional cash-in from Disney such as Frozen Fever (2015), and Blue Sky’s Scrat movies). Otherwise it’s an internet platform such as Vimeo, YouTube (a particularly good place to find short movies, including the ones in this post), or brief exposure at a film festival. Even on DVD or Blu-ray, there’s a dearth of short movies on offer. In an attempt to bring some of the gems that are out there to a wider audience, here’s another in an ongoing series of posts (that this time focuses on short horror movies). Who knows? You might find one that becomes a firm favourite – if you do, please let me know.
Recon 6 (2011) / D: Blake Fisher / 12m
Cast: Georgina Haig, Mark Pound
Rating: 7/10 – In the future, a blood compound designed to eradicate disease has had the opposite effect, and now threatens the world’s population. In order to stave off the effects, sufferers have to take Recon 6, a drug that inhibits their propensity for murderous, carnivorous rage. But Christine (Haig) enjoys the rush of being off the drug; when she meets suicidal Dave (Pound), she sees someone who might share her approach to being a sufferer. Essentially a comedy of romantic errors, Recon 6 features a great performance from Haig, and a sharpness that only falters in its efforts to remain true to the staples of a romantic drama. The horror is kept to a minimum, and though there’s an awkwardness to the denouement, this is nevertheless a neat little movie that is well worth checking out.
Vicious (2015) / D: Oliver Park / 12m
Cast: Rachel Winters, Isabelle King, Alex Holden
Rating: 8/10 – It’s late at night and a woman, Lydia (Winters), returns home to find her front door is ajar. A check of the house shows no sign of an intruder, and she goes to bed. During the night she has a nightmare involving her recently deceased friend, Katie (King), that wakes her. And then she hears a noise from along the landing… An atmospheric chiller, Vicious is a model of expert camera movement and slowly built tension. Park creates such a climate of fear within Lydia’s home that by the time the answer to the question, Is she alone? is answered, audiences will be glad it’s all over. A great use of shadow and light as well, particularly in a standout moment involving a pile of clothes and a dreadful realisation.
Open House (2013) / D: Richard Rodriguez / 12m
Cast: George Herpick, Kim Rodriguez, Alex DeMarco, Denzel Ward, Ashley Hernandez
Rating: 4/10 – A young married couple (Herpick, Rodriguez) with their first baby on the way, go to view a house that their real estate agent says is perfect for them. When they get there they initially agree, but soon find themselves trapped in a house that doesn’t seem to want them to leave. Low production values and clumsy performances mar this short which ultimately tries too hard in almost every department. While Open House may well have the odd chilling moment to recommend it, it’s saddled with a “twist” you can see coming a mile off, and a score that’s too intrusive to work properly.
Blink (2013) / D: ‘Tolulope Ajayi / 12m
Cast: Adeyemi Okanlawon, Funlola Aofiyebi Raimi, Florence Uwaleke, Seun Faleke
Rating: 6/10 – A man (Okanlowan) awakens to find himself tied and weighted to a chair that’s underwater. He struggles to free himself but soon runs out of air – and wakes to find it’s all been a nightmare. But it’s not the only nightmare he suffers, and despite his best efforts, they recur each night. A bleak exercise in nihilistic justice, Blink is a South African short that is initially compelling but loses momentum once the man’s condition is revealed and explained. It’s also more of a psychological horror movie than an out-and-out scarefest, but has enough effective moments to warrant a look, plus it’s nice to see a movie like this from a country that doesn’t always produce this type of thing.
Idol Threats (2014) / D: David Schmidt / 10m
Cast: Michelle Courvais, Dennis Frymire, Brenda E. Kelly
Rating: 6/10 – When a couple – Hanna (Courvais) and Colin (Frymire) – discover an ancient-looking figurine hidden inside the base of a statue, they find that the figurine holds within it a vengeful, angry spirit. Like a lot of horror shorts, Idol Threats takes a staple of the genre, the imprisoned demon, but adds a little tweak to proceedings by making its discoverers an upwardly mobile couple who are also quick to believe they’ve found something terrifying. However, while Schmidt makes good use of the bright, modern surroundings (the couple’s flat, a library), he’s let down by Courvais’ strident delivery of her lines, and some odd framing choices that are probably meant to create unease but just seem, well, odd. At least, as the end credits tell us, no books were harmed in the making of the movie.