One of the interesting aspects of the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival is their breakdown of short films into various themes. I had the pleasure of catching one of those thematic ideas on Saturday of the festival.
Called “Unhealthy Attractions,” each of the films in this showcase had something to do with an unhealthy obsession or connection that in some way brought grief to characters. Overall, I found these to be a great collection of films with a clear thematic connection.
Brian Zahm’s LIPSTICK focused entirely visually on a moment of seductive pleasure between a vampire and her victim. Short but very, very erotic with a surprising ending.
HONEYMOON, written and directed by Ben Saltzman, utilized a semi-documentary style of filmmaking as a way of reinventing a zombie story between a husband and his wife. Quite funny in a dark way.
Fan favorite Dave Reda’s work, ROTTING LOVE was a brilliant little piece about a couple having an argument over how much they love each other—an argument that is both interrupted and exacerbated by their run-in with a zombie apocalypse. I truly loved this little gem of a film.
KEEP QUIET a creation from Matthew P. Higgins, is a twisted puzzle of a story about two people overhearing something happening through a wall. But are they hearing themselves at a different time? Another dimension? I found this an interesting quandary of a story without a clear answer.
Jean-Claude Leblanc’s piece, STUDDED NIGHTMARE, centers on an irresistible chair. Yes, a chair that is so compelling both members of a couple find themselves drawn to it with dreadful (and equally compelling) outcomes.
SLAPFACE is a darkly lovely story by Jeremiah Kipp. A boy desperately wants to remember his mother. But does he care about her so much he’s fantasizing about her still being around? This was a great example of doing so much with a very simple story.
HE DRINKS, from the mind of Michael Varrati, was one of my favorite short films all day. A couple goes to counseling because one of them has a drinking addiction. But the actual truth of that addiction is an amazing twist that I just didn’t see coming. I loved it.
MINDFUCK is a neat little example of the power of audio and imagination from the mind of Pierre Scot. Most of the film is about a man blindfolded, hearing something terrible coming for him. Mindfuck, indeed.
Daniel DelPurgatorio’s film, THIRD WHEEL, handles the fear anyone has for a first date, turning that worry about what might happen into a frightening vision of horror. Quite creepy.
MY MONSTER is a humorous Christmas monster tale concocted by Izzy Lee. What starts as a typical stalking monster tale makes a sudden spin into near goofy territory. I really liked in, almost in spite of myself, because it was just goofy enough, a hard line to walk.
Benjamin Swicker crafted A/S/L with tremendous skill. A man ends up going to visit a young girl thanks to a chat room…but when he gets there, the truth of what is about to happen turns out to be much, much different than expected. Given that this is the sort of story that paints the male as the monster, I truly enjoyed the alternative story that unfolded. Dark, sinister and spooky.
CERULIA is an amazing little masterpiece of a work by Sofia Carrillo, an animated work that transcends beyond horror into art. A woman returns to say a final farewell to an old home and the monsters within it. It’s hard to express exactly what I thought about this film, other than to say that it was emotional in strange ways. Moreover, although the narrative is somewhat vague, the potency of the story shines through.
ALFRED J. HEMLOCK, the creepy monster tale written by Melissa and Edward Lyons and directed by Edward, was without question the most fascinating film of the bunch for me. It’s a tale about a woman who is contemplating killing herself and the creature that shows up to give her exactly what she thinks she desires. Dark, so dark and awful with an amazing character known by such a specific name (the same as the title of the film), and yet exactly the sort of darkness that anyone who’s ever contemplated suicide seriously can recognize. Very, very good.
On that same Saturday, there were a few other short films that I caught before some of the other feature films. I wanted to include thoughts on them as well here.
CUT OFF, from the directorial skill of Ryan Cauchi, was a very short but quite poignant story about a woman waking to find that a crucial part of her appears to have vanished in the night. As someone who has so far avoided some of the worst perils of the 21st century, I found this little gem quite amusing. I think for millenials, this might be more terrifying.
Ariel Hanson’s dark story NEPENTHES focuses on a completely unexpected danger of apps like Tinder. A woman answers with a swipe and puts her entire life in peril in a way that she could not have imagined. A little strange for me, not the least of which was its requirement of making a creature accomplish something that it shouldn’t be able to do. But still fun to watch.
WE SUMMONED A DEMON was an amazing piece of work by Chris McInroy, a very funny little film about exactly what it says it is—demon summoning. Instead of it being frightening, it came across with that same sort of goofy fun as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And I loved, loved, loved the finale of this story—exactly the sort of short film that is an incredible breath of fresh air.
SHORT BUT SWEET was a silly animated tale by Junaid Chundrigar that takes the traditional quest story and drops it entirely on its head to damage it beyond any possible return. It was zany and funny and a perfect mess of overzealous story and crazy moments. Super fun.
DEUSPI was fun as well, a strange animated tale by (of all thing) MEGACOMPUTEUR. Two fellows attempt a robbery and all chaos ensues. I think my jaw dropped three times through this little story, not because I was surprised but because I thought the animation and the story meshed in such interesting ways. Off-kilter and gifted as a story.
PEEK A BOO directed by Anthony Cousins, was one of the best “horror” stories I saw all day. A girl has an imaginary friend that can only be seen when someone does a very specific act. So what happens when the babysitter tries it? It’s a short little story that is very satisfying take where the audience asks only one question—and then the film answers it beautifully.
The Horrible Imaginings festival chose a fantastic set of short films throughout the festival and I was quite impressed with the quality of what I was seeing. In fact, in many ways the short films were the best part of the entire festival for me.