Dir. Callum Smith – USA – 8 min – 2017
When asked what his inspiration was for this hilarious short, director Callum Smith said he thought it would be funny if a couple of goth teenage girls' version of hell was a pumpkin spice latte, and that's essentially what we get here. Instead of the traditional demon they expect when the girls sacrifice a goat to summon it, they get a sarcastic woman who finds their request to curse the people at their high school laughable. It's a really funny concept, and the young performers are all wonderful. This is one I'm eager to see again.
Viola vs. The Vampire King
Dir. Kevin Fermini – USA – 9 min – 2017
This short film is bonkers in the best way possible, and was maybe the most fun 9 minutes I had at the whole festival. It's like 1977's House meets Scott Pilgrim vs. The World as a young girl armed with a samurai sword sets out to defeat the cartoonish Vampire King who took her sister. It's shot on super 8mm, giving it a unique and beautifully colorful look, and the effects done within this framework are wildly entertaining. I'm in 100% for whatever Fermini decides to do next!
Dir. Greg Kovacs – Canada – 3 min – 2017
It's not an Atlanta film festival until a puppet shows up! This extremely funny and quick short turns a genuine homage to children's TV into a gory nightmare for the host's puppet sidekick. It's a funny idea with a fantastic payoff!
Dir. Nicholas Santos – USA – 4 min – 2017
This very clever and well acted short plays on gender stereotypes as the final girl and her male companion figure out what to do in the aftermath of a slasher movie situation. The movie begins just as a Christmas themed slasher movie would end, with the killer dressed as Santa lies nearly dead in the snow. The final girl is ready to finish him off, but the man can't quite muster up the nerve to do it. The two leads are very funny and elicited some major laughter from the audience!
Dir. Adrian Selkowitz – USA – 13 min – 2016
One of the most well crafted short films of the festival, Taste tells the story of a woman desperate to make it big and become a television star as her dark past makes an inconvenient return. Claire (played excellently by Jessica James) is throwing an elegant dinner party with a TV producer friend, but just as they arrive, they find a naked woman lying in the driveway. It moves gracefully from an absurd comedy to a dark supernatural horror film as we realize the connection between the two women and the one's mysterious return. Taste is exceptionally well shot and edited, and could easily be developed as a feature. I'm looking forward to seeing what this team does next!
Dir. Ivan Radovic – Sweden – 10 min – 2017
Based on a Dark Horse comic story, Eldritch Code follows a frustrated IT professional who discovers that a virus downloaded by a foolish employee might be connected to an unknowable cosmic evil. Very well shot with fantastic animated effects, this is exactly what a good short film aspires to be. It's a great self-contained story that is clever, funny, and very cool all at once.
Dir. Stephen Stull – USA – 9 min – 2017
One thing that Buried Alive always delivers are some of the weirdest, most off-the-wall shorts in the world, and The Jerry Show absolutely deserved this year's "What the Fuck" Award that director Stephen Stull walked away with. Here's the idea: after strange noises keep coming from Jerry's stomach, we discover that they are coming from the face of Adolf Hitler that is for some reason embedded in his belly. Believe it or not, it gets much, much stranger than that. This one has to be seen to experience this absurd idea taken to a complete other level.
Dir. Izu Troin – France – 15 min – 2017
My favorite animated short of the festival, Fierce portrays a business man fending for his life as a mysterious figure hunts him in a forest. It's beautifully animated and lushly sound designed, and the Deliverance-like setup is genuinely terrifying. The way it cleverly ties this physical fight for survival with the main character's attempt to climb the corporate ladder is a nice touch and gives it a very satisfying ending.
I am The Doorway
Dir. Robin Kasparik – Czech Republic – 15 min – 2017
Although I haven't read the Stephen King short story that this film is based on, I'm eager to read it now. This lushly visualized short, shot almost entirely from a first person perspective, uses no dialogue to tell its terrifying science-fiction story. Through a combination of beautiful sets, gorgeous cosmic animation, frightening sound design, and clever cinematography, I Am The Doorway convincingly shows us what it would be like to be infected with an alien virus on a spacecraft.