Monday 14 October 2019

Mayhem Film Festival report 2019 - Scary Shorts

Following on from my reviews of the feature films on Day 3 of the Mayhem Festival, Saturday is also the day when they have their short films showcase.

THE DISTURBERS - Dir. Michael Vermaercke - Belgium - 1m35

Director Michael Vermaercke’s THE DISTURBERS kicked off the Scary Shorts section, with a very brief tale about a young couple who are returning home from a date late one evening. 

But, they don’t realise they are being stalked by a supernatural entity, because they’re too busy looking at their mobile phones.

A very apt first film, done in the style of one of those information films that cinemas put up, asking customers to turn their phones off before the film starts. 

This was a very short, short film at just 1m 35s long, which was a brief, but succinct, statement about the problem we have with society today.

Visit the directors website at...

A LITTLE TASTE - Dir. Victor Català - Spain - 5m12

Director Victor Català’s A LITTLE TASTE was a creepy tale about a little girl, who appears to be being chased through a forest.

When she reaches a clearing, she finds another young girl alone on a see-saw, who asks if she would like to play with her. But although everything around her appears safe, nothing or nobody is as they appear…

Shot in rural Spain, the director made good use of the surroundings, creating a visually stunning piece with a brilliant double twist at the end.

You can find out more about the film here...

BILL - Dirs. Dan Gitsham & Sophie Mair - UK - 3m14

A lonely widow engages in a black magic ritual, hoping to bring her husband back from the dead. But although the spell works, it seems her husband is no longer the person she remembers.

At just over 3 minutes long, there isn’t an awful lot of plot to describe in this cautionary tale of being careful what you wish for. Which was rather reminiscent of a Tales from the Crypt story. 

But directors Dan Gitsham & Sophie Mair manage to successfully craft a spooky atmosphere and even work in a bit dark humour, which the audience enjoyed.

It’s worth mentioning that directors Dan and Sophie also produced the incredibly dark, short film “Ella”, which featured Anthony Stewart Head. Which is viewable on YouTube.

For more info about the directors and their films visit...

CREAKER - Dir. Vidar Aune - Norway - 4m

A brief but amusing tale about a young girl, who is woken one night by strange creaking noises, that appear to be coming from both inside and outside her room.

When she realises that there is someone, or something, in the room with her. Rather than panicking, she goes on the offensive, obviously having seen enough horror films to prepare her for such an eventuality.

But it seems she is in for a hell of a surprise.

Obviously set in what was meant to be the late 80s, judging by the posters on her wall. This was another crowd pleaser that had the audience in hysterics when the twist ending was revealed. 

For more info on this visit...

DEAD QUIET - Dir. Alex Withers - UK - 8m50

A very dark film, set in what appears to be a post-apocalyptic world. In which a lone survivor finds that it’s not so much the lack of technology he’s struggling to deal with. 

Instead, what is driving him to despair, is just how quiet everything is now there are no working vehicles, there's nothing to play music on and nobody to interact with.

An interesting idea, which looks at the effects of the collapse of civilisation from a very different perspective. Some of the cast and crew were actually in attendance at teh screening, whch again was well received by the audience.

For more info visit...

EL CUENTO (The Story) - Dirs. Lucas Paulino & Ángel Torres - Spain - 9m40

A couple of children, living in an upstairs flat, like to be mean and tease the old woman who lives in the flat across the road to them through their window, who they refer to as a witch.

But after sending them to bed, the mother comes into their room and tells them a tale about the pitfalls of mocking witches, and the two come to realise they may soon regret their actions.

An effective ghostly short, this was apparently based on an old folktale about what happened to children who were mean to the local witch, but updated to a modern day setting

For more info visit...

FROST BITE - Dir. Andrew Hunt - US - 10m2

Set against the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse, a young girl trudges through the snow in the backwoods of Minnesotta during the middle of winter, leading a zombie in a firefighters uniform along with her.

Avoiding military units and braving the harsh weather, the reason for her wanting this zombie to follow her isn’t explained until right to the very end where we discover that blood is thicker than ice.

An interesting premise, with good zombie effects, which also makes good use of its isolated location.

For more info visit...

IT’S NOT CUSTARD - Dir. Kate McCoid - UK - 6m24

One of the weirder films in the scary shorts section, a young teenage girl suffers relentless bullying from the kids at school, and from her older sister, because of her chronic acne.

Her fortunes take a dramatic turn though, when her wish for the bullying to stop is granted and her spots miraculously disappear one morning and her tormentors finally leave her alone. But then something very strange happens to her bedroom walls….

A rather troubling, though darkly comical, short film dealing with the subject of bullying in which it be truly said everyone gets their “Just deserts” at the end. 

You can actulally watch the entire short film online here...

For more info visit

LIMBUS - Dir. Sekander Sharifi - Germany - 3m

Another short, short film in which a chap hiking through the woods in rural Germany, inadvertently stumbles across, what looks like, a murder scene.

Seeing a man brandishing spade next to several dead bodies, which are piled up next to an open grave, it seems all too obvious what’s going on and the hiker decides to take off, with the man chasing after him.

But as the would-be victim is soon to discover, all may not be as it seemed.

A really funny short story, which again had the audience laughing out loud, which goes to prove it’s never wise to jump to conclusions. 

NOM - Dir. Angel Hernandez Suarez - Spain - 10m25

An aging cycling enthusiast, who enjoys riding through the mountains of Spain, seems he has an ulterior motive for cycling round such remote areas and a novel way of keeping agile.

An interesting twist on the old vampire tale which makes good use of its scenic locations.

Can’t seem to find much on the director, other than he directed another short horror film called Fingulus back in 2018.

For more info visit...

 ONE LAST MEAL - Dir. Jill Gevargizian - US - 11m

A convicted multiple murderer on death row is asked what he wants for his last meal. 

But when he says he wants human flesh, the warden and guard captain find themselves torn between honouring his last wishes, as per tradition, doing the unthinkable.

Filmed in what was obviously an abandoned prison, this was a deeply dark tale with a healthy dose of dark humour and an ironic twist at the end, when the convict finally makes one demand too many.

For more info visit...

- Dir. Luis Orti - Spain - 12m

Single mother Bea, has just moved into a new flat with her new baby when she receives a parcel from her estranged father, who’s now living in Africa.

Inside is a rather hideous looking tribal mask, which she promptly throws in the bin. But shortly afterwards, strange things begin to happen inside her apartment.

Competantly filmed, but for what was a 12min film, this one seemed a bit slow and we were left wondering just what it was that was wreaking havoc in her flat. 

Clearly it was connected to the tribal mask she received, but what it was exactly was never explained and seemed like a set up for a much longer feature.

Fore more info visit

THE PROCEDURE 2 - Dir. Calvin Lee Reeder - Canada, 3m

Oh boy, I just KNEW we were in for some fun with this one. This is a follow up to a 2016 short film, about a person who is drugged, abducted, strapped to a table and forced to undergo an unusual “procedure” before being released.

This time, it happens to be a hapless jogger, who by means of a tripwire and an unseen assailant with a syringe, is taken away and similarly finds himself strapped to a table and forced to undergo a similar procedure as the last victim.

Defintely the funniest of the bunch, this had the audience in hysterics, and seemed unable to control their laughter until well into the next film (me being no exception).

If you want more of an idea as to what this is about. The first film, The Procedure, is viewable online on Vimeo

For more info visit...

TOE - Dirs. Charles Thurman & Neal O'Bryan - US - 7m

A gothic, stop motion, animated tale of a young lad, who lives in a dilapidated shack, and is desperately looking for something to eat.

Not having any luck catching the local wildlife, when he comes across a big toe buried in the dirt, he decides to cook and eat that instead. But unfortunately, the old witch who the toe belonged to, wants her digit back and decides to come looking for it.

Done in the style of a Tim Burton animation (Corpse Bride, Nightmare Before Christmas etc), this was another story apparently based on an old American folk tale, namely The Witch and her Toe. Which you may be familiar with if you saw the horror film “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” earlier this year.

A very dark, and surreal ghostly tale.
For more info visit...

UNMADE - Dir. Steven Sheil - UK - 10m

Unmade, which was the second short film of the evening to feature a loved one trying to contact a deceased partner, sees a young girl visiting a psychic medium who she hopes will allow her to speak to her former boyfriend.

But having made contact, it seems she wants to do more than just talk to him and having given her ex a firm piece of her mind, proceeds to show him that even in death, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Was interesting to see this on the screen as it was actually written and directed by Steven Sheil, who is one of the directors of the Mayhem Festival and is no stranger to making films, having written and directed the 2008 horror “Mum and Dad”.

A short but effective ghostly chiller, although being the militant atheist that I am, struggle to take supernatural horrors seriously.

For more info visit...

WILD LOVE - Dirs. Paul Autric, Quentin Camus, Maryka Laudet, Léa Georges, Zoé Sottiaux & Corentin Yvergniaux - France - 7m

Last, but by no means least in the scary shorts line up came the animated short WILD LOVE. In which a a young couple hiking through the mountains in France accidentally drop one of their climbing sticks over the edge of a cliff, impaling a hapless beaver down below.

The other beavers are suitably outraged, and shortly afterwards, the young couple are running for their lives as the beavers proceed to attack them in a suitably cartoonish fashion.

To summarise, if Pixar films made a horror movie, it would look exactly like this. The audience were in hysterics and it was a fantastic film to close the scary shorts showcase on.

For more info visit...

And that was the end of the scary shorts. 

The Mayhem Film Festival is organised by Chris Cooke and Steve Sheil and takes place Mid-October each year at the Broadway Cinema Nottingham.

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