There are lots of great shorts playing at Horror-on-Sea. Here’s a collection of ones to track down on the first weekend of the fest.
Let’s bitch it out…
The Mountain King (McGuinness, 2017)
This deceptively simple short features two actors and no dialogue. If you take it literally, it’s a very straightforward short about a woman who is being hunted by a demon in her home. If you take it metaphorically, it’s a tale about mental illness and confronting your “demons.” I was struck by how McGuiness uses the short run time and economic restrictions to his advantage – an early brief flash of gore is confronting and the creature design is effective – which helps to make this Canadian short a stand-out.
- Screens: Friday, Jan 19 at 12:30pm with feature Pitchfork
Chihuahua Man (Casserly, 2017)
Easily one of the most amusing and unusual shorts of the first weekend is Sam Casserly’s Chihuahua Man, which plays on the familiar conventions of introducing a significant other to a mildly embarassing family member for the holidays. Cranking the awkwardness to 11, Casserly makes great use of tight framing and close shots to accentuate the humourous interactions, particularly non-verbal cues as everyone attempts to delicately diffuse an increasingly bizarre holiday feast.
- Screens: Saturday, Jan 19 at 12:30pm with feature Egomaniac
The Flytipper (Coleman, 2017)
This short about three flytippers (a British term for people who dump garbage in unauthorized zones) is hilariously absurd. I won’t reveal the details of the “part monster, part machine” that attacks them, but suffice to say that it is a memorable combination of junk parts, animated to comedic perfection. The tone of Coleman’s short evokes early Peter Jackson films like Bad Taste and Dead Alive (main character Greg even resembles the latter film’s lead, Timothy Balme) which is unexpectedly delightful. I was particularly taken with the short’s mix of clever and zany, gross-out visual gags (ex: a severed penis with a piercing figures prominently). If that doesn’t get you laughing, then what is wrong with you?
- Screens: Saturday, Jan 20 at 5:30pm with feature Witches Brew
Nick (Levy, 2017)
There’s something deeply unsettling about Jack Levy’s short. It starts inconspicuously as a couple – John and Rebecca – attend a poetry reading by the titular Nick at the behest of friends. The atmosphere is odd: the attendees, who are a mix of ages and races, wear t-shirts and have tattoos of the performer, as though he were a famous rock star and not an elderly, Richard Attenborough kind of man. When the poetry and music begins, it’s underwhelming and even a little bland, and our sympathies lie with John and Rebecca, who shift visibly in their seats and yawn, in contrast to the other attendees who act like devout followers.
This disconnect only becomes more substantial when the couple are confronted for not enjoying themselves and the uncomfortable atmosphere and potential for violence escalates. Nick perfectly captures the tension the accompanies the feeling that a situation is spiralling out of control. There’s a touch of dark humour in the proceedings because the reactions of the crowd seem dramatically out of proportion for the event, but that also makes it more horrifying when the crowd threatens to become a mob. At nearly 15 minutes, the short is perhaps a touch too long and the ending a little too anticipated, but Levy’s ability to wring tension out of such mundane developments is worthy of applause.
- Screens: Sunday, Jan 21 at 10am with feature Beast
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