The Halloween season is upon us and that means it’s time to binge horror films. The big name features get all the hype, but there have been some incredible horror short films this year that absolutely ruin your sleep for days. Here are a few to check out while things are appropriately spooky.
Directed by Spenser Cohen
Hospitals are already terrifying, but nothing can prepare you for Blink. Mary (Sophie Thatcher) wakes up in the ICU after falling out of window. She is completely paralyzed and can only communicate through a series of blinks. As best she can, she tells her nurse (Alicia Coppola) that something pushed her. What follows is a grisly game of ghostly dread as something inhuman tries to finish the job on the powerless Mary. While the creature design is a little uninspired, Thatcher turns in a master class of acting using only her eyes and eyelids. The classic “monster stalks you in your bed” story has rarely been done better.
Close Your Eyes
Directed by Andy Chen
Ever since 2013, horror short filmmakers have been trying to replicate the vital success of Lights Out with varying degrees of success. Andy Chen’s take on the basic formula doesn’t break a lot of new ground, but it makes up for it in sheer brute force. Vincent (Vinny Balbo) is unnerved by his sleepwalking roommate Martin (David L. Bennett) who says a woman whispers secrets to him. It turns out the woman is a drowned ghoul who viciously attacks Vinny. However, keep watching after the title card at the end for a deeply unsettling twist to the ending.
Directed by Jacob Arbittier
In this disturbing short, a monstrous fisherman (Donald Cluff) stalks a young girl (Olivia Rand) while her father (Justin Gubersky) insists the entity isn’t real. Below its surface, The Fisherman tackles deep subjects like parental abuse and childhood suicide, making the monster one of the least scary parts of the film. While it lacks the outright terror of other entries on this list, it more than makes up for it with the sick feeling the events will give a viewer.
Directed by Masaaki Mitsuyasu
Not since Rubber has an innocuous inanimate object been such a deadly presence. A shiba inu named Sasuke is jealous of his owner’s new golden piggybank, which is set in a place of honor near photographs of Sasuke and given appreciative pats. Sasuke throws the object out, only to have it come back a cute, but malevolent presence. Mitsuyasu never lets the absurdity of the story get in the way of telling a dark fairytale, one that tugs on the heartstrings and still remains spooky. Extra props to Sasuke. It’s rare for an animal to carry an entire film on their own, let alone so well.
Directed by Cameron Gallagher
In Lucid, a man (Jake Fallon) has to traverse a waking nightmare in order to win back his wife from a demonic entity bent on consuming her. More a proof of concept for a larger work than a strict horror short, Lucid nonetheless is backed with scares and intensity that leaves an audience craving the next step in the story. The horror effects are intense, and Fallon shines as a bitter protagonist who still steps up when he sees hope. There’s so much more that could be shown from this world. Here’s hoping we eventually do.