The Cradle (2022)
Director (and writer): Massimo Meo
An angry mob interrupts a witch as she prepares breakfast for her collected children. – IMDB
The Cradle is a short running at a swift 3 minutes. The film is quiet for the most part and only pans through the titular item for a few seconds and then moves around the house of where this is set before it hits a final shocking reveal at the end. While the story itself feels a bit abstract to understand, it does have some pretty nice cinematography as it pans through the house and the items following a woman. Even if its a bit of a question mark why its called The Cradle, the film does have some good visuals and nice reveal at the end which gives some nice creepy vibes.
Director (and writer): Samuel Rudykoff
We’ve all received scam phone calls, but what about the person making the calls? Cruise is a dark workplace satire about a hapless telemarketer trying mightily to give away a free cruise. And if he fails, there will be dire consequences. – IMDB
Cruise is a fun little dark humor short which looks at a possible scenario of what’s going on at the other end of a scam call. Maybe its not all that we think it is and the people making the calls really are there for other reasons and have their own obstacles and consequences. Its a pretty clever take on the scam calls story which looks at the callers and their bosses. Maybe it will make you think twice before you hang up on a scam call…
Anything, Anything (2022)
Director (and writer): Emma Higgins
Anything Anything is a short that starts itself with a conversation between two girl friends when one comes to visit the other to make sure they are okay after some abusive issues before. As the conversation goes along, the question now becomes whether the abusive danger still exists. Its not until after the friend leaves that we get the answer of what is actually going on. The setup of the story and the lighting works together to create a suspicious and sinister atmosphere.
The Ratcatcher’s Daughter (2022)
Directors (and co-writers): Jim Bryson & Adam Jeffcoat
Based on the short story “The Rat-Catcher” by Alexander Grin, The Ratcatcher’s Daughter is a 15 minutes short which definitely feel much more fleshed out due to the longer runtime. This animated feature follows a revolutionary who meets the plague ratcatcher’s daughter spontaneously and ends up running from the military and walk right into a sacrificial ritual. There’s a lot of nice animated cinematic style here as it chooses a more darker palette for the most part and chooses to only highlight the blood red colors so for example, the bloody moments and red eyes of the mice really pop. The story has depth and carries a pretty intriguing story that it almost feels like a prologue to what could become a full length animation. In some ways, the atmosphere and narrative execution reminds me a little of South Korean animated film Seoul Station.
In The Dark (2022)
Director: Bronson Allen
In The Dark tells the story of a girl who has been consistently unlucky with men who ends up going for a date with a man who seems to be normal. When she gets there, everything seems to be going fine until she starts to realize that all the light switches have been anchored to stay on. In further conversation, the man confesses that because of a child experience, he now has a monster that lurks in the darkness that wants to hurt him.
Everyone wonders whether the monsters that we think we see in the dark are real. We’ve seen some decent movies that navigate imaginary friends and monsters in our bedroom with kids. Rarely do they follow them into adulthood but this brings up the question as a seemingly pleasant date runs off course when the man tells the story of why he can’t close the lights. This short truly plays on the audience being the more knowledgeable group who believes the story more than the woman in the date and the question remains what will happen if the lights turn out. While the creature design here is a little funny (just the low budget feeling which is normal) more than creepy, the story takes a clever twist for its ending.
Created by Unreal Engine, Dissós is a three minute short film that feels like a video game as you follow its protagonist who wakes up outside an abandoned house and goes inside to investigate to soon realize that there’s something odd at work.
Being a gamer myself and being very familiar with the horror genre in gaming, the film had a predictable moment and then the big reveal was also quite obvious as it came around but then, it is the type of surprise reveal that I personally enjoy a lot, where the beginning and end are connected to each other. The animation was done well and the atmosphere of the house was pretty well-structured. There was a good unsettling feeling at the start and it could be fun concept to experience further either as a full flesh story or a game.
Les Dents de la Maison (Paws, 2022)
Director: Austin Birtch
Les Dents de la Maison starts off its story with a man looking for a cat sitter for an evil cat. The film switches to a narrative format as the sitter comes to do his job and gradually the real deal is revealed. It flips also from English normal film to the French narrative with subtitles which isn’t a huge deal. The film in general right away delivers the uneasiness of this cat who seems to right off the get-go be evil because of how they portray the eyes and then as the sitter narrates, it seems to set it up whether its his paranoia or just that the cat actually is evil. It sure feels like cats are never used enough in horror films as the main villains and its only ever seemed to appear in short films once in a while. To be fair, the execution doesn’t make it scary even if the ending is pretty intriguing and unpredictable as didn’t quite see it going in that direction either.
Diggin’ A Hole (2022)
Director (and writer): David Bragg
I feel like talking about cats in the last short and jumping to this one seems so suitable as this short is basically the cautionary tale of “curiosity killed the cat”. A woman is digging a hold in the middle of a field when a man walks by and starts pressing her for an answer as to why she is doing it. The conversation doesn’t really get anywhere as it seems like every answer she gives is either avoiding or isn’t the truth. It takes the audience for a loop as she starts talking about one thing and then it all leads up to the actual reason. There’s a bit of dark humor embedded in the dialogue and how its executed but for something that is about a conversation in a middle of a field, it has decent pacing to keep the intrigue going.
Horse Brothers (2022)
Directors (and writers): Milos Mitrovic & Fabian Velasco
Two paranoid brothers are consumed with murderous fantasies after a horse convinces them that they are each others’ enemies. – IMDB
Horse Brothers is a trippy and weird short. There’s a grainy texture to the scene like its in the past. As the short moves along, the camera and lighting effects are really where it creates the more psychedelic sort of feeling. The story itself a little odd in general especially with the beginning where I can only assume its the horse talking to the brother which happens to be in a screen with Italian (I think). Because of the trippy feeling, the whole film also has this mysterious and unsettling feeling with how certain effects are used. While the film is a little too much for myself personally since the narrative is all a bit too odd, the last shot on the lake is very captivating.