As with full length films, horror shorts had a fantastic year. Our choice of favorite horror shorts run from simple terror to over the top gore but each one effectively impacted us in different ways. The following are some of Nightmarish Conjuring’s staff pick for favorite horror shorts of 2016.
SHANNON MCGREW’S PICK – CURVE
There were a lot of incredible short films this year, but the one that affected me the most, that left me breathless and wanting more, was Tim Egan’s CURVE. It’s simplistic in nature, a woman, played by Laura Jane Turner, awakens to find herself on the ledge of a curve leading into pitch black darkness. She has no recollection of how she got there or why she is there but she knows that whatever is waiting for her in the darkness below is not nothing she wants to encounter. We watch as she struggles to maintain some form of leverage and just when we thinks she’s out of the woods (so to speak), it starts to rain. It was hard to watch and not be able to help out at all, and that’s why this short is so effective. It’s all fictional yet you are so moved to want to help knowing there is nothing you can do. Though the ending is finite for the short, it opens up worlds of possibilities if it were to ever be made into a full feature film, which I can only hope comes into fruition one day.
CRAIG THAYER’S PICK – AGATHA
Picking my favorite horror short this year proved incredibly simple as only one short made it onto my all time favorites list. This short is AGATHA and it is a must see for any horror fan. There is something so unnerving about the simple conceit that allows for a nearly wordless short with a wonderfully dark impact. The ending itself is just so darn clever and morbid that I watched it more than once in sheer appreciation. This is what a horror short should be as the creepy atmosphere permeates the wicked story of the sinister trappings of curiosity.
TAYLOR TERRIBLE’S PICK – INTO THE MUD
My favorite short films of the year has to be INTO THE MUD, which I actually very recently watched (just a short few weeks ago). What I noticed in this short film compared to most other short films I’ve seen (not just throughout 2016, but throughout all of forever), is that it has the ability to tell a story in just a few minutes. Most shorts give you a situation and expect you to draw out a backstory and come up with your own creative reason as to why the situation at hand is happening. INTO THE MUD is a little bit different because the story is told so thoroughly and eloquently without the lengthiness of a “first hour” where it’s explained. Once you’ve seen the short, you know the story beginning to end. It’s a welcomed change…I can’t stand shorts most of the time because there’s too much room for interpretation. INTO THE MUD is just pure excitement, no questions asked.
JAMES H. CARTER’S PICK – MYSTERY PHONE
My favorite short film of the year is Ama Lea’s MYSTERY PHONE. What I loved about this short is it’s like characters from “Clueless” were injected into a horror film! I dig the contrast between the vibrant hot pink room and wardrobe with the impending doom you sense is coming their way. I won’t spoil the ending for you but I will tell you that I love what happens and it left me wanting more! It’s a “mystery” whether or not director Ama Lea will make a feature length version of this short, if only I had a “mystery phone” I would call her and ask!
JAY KAY’S PICK – THE STYLIST
My overall favorite short film of 2016 is THE STYLIST, from the Los Angeles based Etheria Film Night. This follow up short film to CALL GIRL shows such growth from filmmaker and hairstylist Jill Sixx. Conceived effectively and fully planned on each level of the production, this short film was written by the fearless Eric Havens. This truly tragic tale offers very little exposition on the origins of a very offsetting character weaving tension, mystery and detail that has engrossed and frightened audiences across the country and around the world at film festivals. With a delicate beauty, dark psychosis, and cringe worthy moments, the stylist is beautifully performed by the unique beauty of Najarra Townsend (CONTRACTED). Her embodiment of the damaged and truly sad character is authentic and at points heartbreaking as well as chilling. THE STYLIST is well balanced and a detailed vision created through the personal vision of Jill Sixx. The creative camera work is accomplished by Robert Patrick Stern and the keen precision of editor John Pata. With tense humorous moments, dream like locations and well-crafted SFX that create reaction, THE STYLISToffers a complete vision laid out on a canvas of beauty, insanity and true horror.
DEVIN MARCH’S PICK – DOGGED
What sets DOGGED apart from other “similar” films is it’s concept. Not often do you see a mixture of cults and home invasion in the same film, two separate concepts, and see something like that mesh so well together. The other aspect was the costume design which I found to be visually pleasing. Through films like THE PURGE and YOU’RE NEXT, we have more experiences with the featured animal masks; however, DOGGED pulls this off in a way that worked better, for myself. The full length film is soon to be released and I most definitely cannot wait to check it out. Do yourself a favor and sink your fleshy fangs into DOGGED, a short that should not leave you disappointed.
Don’t see your favorite short on the list? Don’t worry! Let us know, because there’s a good chance we may not have seen it! If 2016 was this good of a year, we can only imagine what 2017 will bring us!