SUSPENSE – Horror Short Film

Having survived a harrowing plane crash, an army pilot finds himself suspended from a canopy of trees high above the forest floor by his parachute. After making contact with his co-pilot on the ground, they realize that something is stalking them in the dark.

 

Suspense is truly a suspenseful little ride, with some nice creature feature elements!

 

SUSPENSE - Horror Short Film

 

Director: Ben Burghart, Jacob Burghart
Country & year: USA, 2020
Actors: Jelani Talib, Robert Coppage
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt13123108/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rent-A-Pal (2020)

David is a 40 year old single man who has dedicated his life to take care of his mother, who is suffering from dementia. Since we’re in the 90’s, there’s no internet dating services or other easy ways of getting to know someone, so in a desperate attempt to find someone he can share his life with, he signs up on Video Rendezvous, a video dating service (yes, this was a real thing back then). After failed attempts and little response, he one day comes over a VHS tape with the curious title Rent-A-Pal. Deciding to try it out, he brings it back home with him and meets his new friend Andy, who is sitting in a chair and pretending to have a real conversation with whoever is playing the VHS. Finding it awkward at first and struggling to make proper replies to Andy’s lines, he soon becomes accustomed to the conversations, and to David it feels like an actual friendship. Except, it’s just a simple VHS tape…or is it?

 

Rent-A-Pal is a well crafted psychological thriller, which gets pretty dark and depressing at times. Set in the 90’s, it does a very good job on recreating the era and makes it feel genuine. The portrayal of David and his dementia-suffering mother is both realistic and sad, without being dramatically overdone. It’s like seeing small glimpses of what an everyday life can be when taking care of someone with a condition like that. It is also interesting how the movie initially portrays David as a pretty nice guy, not the clichéd “loser” type or some new Norman Bates. He is genuinely caring and kind, and in one of his video dating performances he actually gives a really good and sympathetic speech about himself and his life, and how he takes care of his mother. However, the video dating service’s cameraman asks him to cut it down and have a re-take, so the end result ends up making him look like a total write-off instead. You can’t help but feeling sorry for the guy…

 

When the Rent-A-Pal tape starts playing, you don’t really know what to expect, but it feels somewhat creepy and uncanny. There’s nothing explicitly wrong with it, it’s just a normal-looking guy sitting in a chair, pretending to be the viewer’s “friend”, asking questions and delivering simple statements and jokes. And David becomes more and more obsessed with watching the video. Andy, despite being pre-recorded, gives him exactly what he needs: someone who seems to care, someone he can talk to, someone who listens. So, it’s not real…but for David it starts feeling real, and he starts rewinding the tape to certain parts that fits with what he wants to tell Andy, and what he wants him to say. Well…we can all see a few red flags here already, right?

 

Despite David’s increased obsession with the VHS tape, there are a few instances where something feels a bit off…and Andy’s lines become a bit strange. Andy’s effect on David becomes more and more apparent, and it’s not a good one…so when David finally has a chance of going on a date with a girl who even appears to be perfect for him, Andy’s influence actually makes it harder for him to get what he initially wanted: a girlfriend. Whatever black hole of loneliness that originally filled David’s heart, it has now been filled with Andy’s toxic influence. And it makes it even harder for David to live the life he wished for. While this being a 90’s centered movie, I guess you could easily draw some parallels to all kinds of negative internet influences. People who find themselves in a bad place (whether it be because of loneliness, depression, feeling of exclusion, or other things), might find a connection with someone or something online which gives them a feeling of belonging, but eventually just ends up destroying their every chance of living the life they hoped for as they sink further and further into a harmful rabbithole. And maybe that was the intention of Andy (and all “Andy’s) all along…

 

Driven by strong performances, Rent-A-Pal is a strange and dark journey, where you always keep wondering what’s going to happen next and where it’s all going to lead.

 

Rent-A-Pal

 

Directors: Jon Stevenson
Country & year: USA, 2020
Actors: Wil Wheaton, Brian Landis Folkins, Amy Rutledge, Kathleen Brady, Adrian Egolf, Josh Staab, Luke Sorge, Olivia Hendrickm, Karin Carr, Sara Woodyard, Brandon Fryman
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt12274228/

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN A FOREIGN TOWN – Horror Short

Based on the stories of acclaimed horror author, Thomas Ligotti. A troubled man recounts a strange childhood journey to a town with no name.

 

In a Foreign Town gives us an atmospheric and creepy little story about a man troubled by a memory from his youth, one that has haunted him ever since…

 

IN A FOREIGN TOWN - Horror Short

 

Director: Michael Shlain
Country & year: USA, 2018
Actors: Yuri Lowenthal, Tony Amendola, Strange Dave, Jack McGraw, David Rees Snell, Adam Tomei
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt8717066/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grotesk (2015)

We’re told that a radioactive slime from the moon has found its way to Earth from a space shuttle that plunges into the sea near the coast of Denmark, and infects humans and turn them into murderous mutants. One of them, with a head that looks like a rotten potato, brutally kills a random couple who are having a picnic by the beach. And after this quick opening, we have basically seen the whole movie in a nutshell which oozes of zero budget and amateur hour all the way. We then get introduced to some guy who is on his way to a campsite near the radioactive area where he has rented a trailer for the summer. We can assume that this is the film’s protagonist, but he’s more like another random dude who likes to sniff at women’s panties while jerking off. And … uhm, well…

 

… what more should one really say when there’s basically no plot to summarize. “Denmark’s answer to Plan 9 From Outer Space” it says on the DVD cover. It’s more like Bad Taste meets Violent Shit in a septic tank.

 

The film looks like pure shit, like as if the camera lens was rubbed with a layer of piss and puke before every shot, just to make the visuals as ugly as possible. I can assume that the green filter, or whatever it is, is supposed to illustrate the toxic radioactivity, but it doesn’t take long before it hurts your eyes. Don’t watch this on a big screen, just trust me on that one. We also get some goofy out-of-sync dubbing, Zombie ’90-style, and amateur actors from the bottom of the barrel who probably haven’t been in front of a camera before or since Grotesk. The effects are cheap and cheesy, the micro-budget standard one would expect. Then we have one of the movie props, which is supposed to be some kind of tracking device from the military, which is made out of a cardboard box. Yeah, really. It’s so retarded to the point that you get the impression that the film was either made bad intentionally, or by some twelve-year olds with their dads, moms and creepy uncles in the roles, but I’m not so sure.

 

And what else..? Not much, and I think you know by now exactly if this is your thing or not. But with the short running time of approx. 1 hour, it’s a cheesy fun-bad movie that doesn’t require too much of your time (or your brain cells). You can find the DVD from Another World Entertainment after a quick search on eBay.

 

Grotesk

 

Director: Peter J. Bonneman
Country & year: Denmark, 2015
Actors: Heine Sørensen, Jørgen Gjerstrup, Mai Sydendahl, Jack Jensen, Justin Metzger, Mai Edelgaard, Rune Jacobsen, Kim Kofod, Rune Dybdahl, Frederik Tolstrup, Jens Kofoed, Natasha Joubert
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt4418130/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CUNNING MAN – Horror Short

A lonely man on a farm collects the corpses of dead animals, find out his shocking intentions in this fantasy short inspired by the tales of real-life physician John Harries (1785 – 1839), a ‘Cunning Man’ notorious for using folklore magic.

 

The Cunning Man is a nice little horror short about a “cunning man” (a cunning man or woman are practitioners of folk medicine and folk magic).

 

THE CUNNING MAN - Horror Short

 

Director: Zoe Dobson
Country & year: UK, 2019
Actors: Simon Armstrong, Ali Cook, Ian Kelly, Charlotte Jo Hanbury
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt10280634/

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Go On (2016)

Miles Grissom (Clark Freeman) is a man who struggles with an intense fear of dying, ever since he at the age of three watched his father die in a car accident. His anxiety is so severe that he won’t drive a car, will barely leave his apartment, and suffers from night terrors. In a desperate attempt to get rid of his fears, he places an advert in a newspaper, offering 30.000 dollars to whoever can show him evidence that we go on after our deaths. When his mother finds out about his advert, she scoffs and mocks him, telling him he will never get anything except a lot of kook calls. And, well…he does have to go through a bunch of videos from people who are either clearly insane, or clearly fraudsters. After a lot of work (with a bit of help from mommy) he narrows down the responses to three candidates: a scientist, a medium, and a wordly entrepreneur. Will any of them bring him definite proof of life after death? And if that happens…will he really get the peace he’s longing for?

 

We Go On does have a pretty interesting concept, and offers up an original little ghost story. How many people haven’t wanted proof of life after death, or proof of ghosts? Despite tons of existing “footage”, consisting of a plethora of photos and videos of so-called “ghosts”, there’s no actual proof of anything as of yet. I mean, just look up some of the “scary videos” on YouTube…it’s so easy to fake all kinds of things on a photo these days, and with modern technology it’s no problem to show off so-called “proof” of ghosts or bigfoots or whatever the heck you want on videos as well. People have, for centuries, gotten a kick out of faking supernatural goings-on, whether it be for pure personal enjoyment or financial gain. And if someone really did have actual proof…among all the faked photos and videos out there…how would anyone actually be able to notice the difference? No one would, most likely. But despite all the fakery, death has always been one of our greatest mysteries and people have always wondered what happens after we die. While there are those who are content with thinking that we’ll just wither and die like other living creatures, not worrying much about any so-called “afterlife”…there’s also many who simply can’t come to terms with something like that, refusing to think that death can be the end. In fact, the fear of death can be quite severe for some, and it’s called “Thanatophobia”. Our protagonist in We Go On suffers clearly from this, and it’s pretty much destroying his life by making him so afraid of death that he can’t fully live (ironic, right?).

 

As we follow Miles in his search for proof of life after death, it’s both a bit exciting and amusing to witness all the examples of crazy people and scam attempts he’s becoming a victim to. If a guy offers 30.000 dollars for so-called proof of ghosts, why not just put up some theatrics and hope he’ll swallow hook, line and sinker, right? Well, thank goodness his quick-witted mother demanded to come along on his journey, otherwise he’d lose that money pretty quickly to one of the fraudsters.

 

I think it’s best not to explain too much about what happens throughout, as it’s better to view it without knowing too much. What I can say is that there are some scenes that are genuinely creepy. It also gives some twists and turns along the ride, which is what keeps your interest up. Albeit a little slow, it does work as an effective little chiller.

 

We Go On

 

Directors: Jesse Holland, Andy Mitton
Country & year: USA, 2016
Actors: Annette O’Toole, Clark Freeman, John Glover, Giovanna Zacarías, Laura Heisler, Jay Dunn, Dwight Augustin, David Bickford, David Bickford, Norio Chalico, Tony Devon, Cassidy Freeman, Edwin Garcia II, Tom Harrington, Clem Jeffreys
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt3904278/

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INFERNO – Horror Short Film

A woman awakens from a horrible nightmare. But, the nightmare is real. Trapped within a decrepit, run-down motel, the woman begins to piece together the horror she faces, only for creaking doors, broken glass, a rifle and a fateful encounter in the backseat of her car to bring her face-to-face with a monster from hell.

 

Inferno is a creepy horror short where a woman is hunted by a demonic entity.

 

INFERNO - Horror Short Film

 

Director: Bishal Dutta
Country & year: USA, 2019
Actors: Taylor Cloyes, Craig Ng
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt10988950/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manhattan Baby (1982)

We are in Giza, Egypt, where the archaeologist George finds a stone tablet with mysterious writings which he believes is the answer to an ancient riddle that is linked to the tomb nearby. He enters the tomb with a guide who falls right into one of the traps with spikes, while George is attacked by dark forces that shoot two cheesy neon-laser beams in his eyes, which makes him temporarily blind. At the same time his wife and daughter are tourists in the local area, where Susie meets a mysterious blind lady who offers her to buy an antique amulet before she cryptically says “tombs are for the dead” and disappears into thin air like a ghost.

 

Then we cut back home in Manhattan, New York, in an apartment complex where we are introduced to Susie’s annoying little brother, Tommy (most known as Bob from (The House By the Cemetery). The amulet is around Susie’s neck, which soon turns out to be a cursed object (who could ever imagine), and lots of weird things start to happen. The apartment transforms into some kind of warp zone that teleports people to the desert area we saw in the beginning, and things such as scorpions, poisonous snakes and desert sand appears in the apartment while Susie loses her mind and gets possessed by the dark forces of the amulet.

 

And we also get a completely random scene were some random dude falls through an elevator floor. Just because.

 

As mentioned, the blonde kid from The House by the Cemetery shows up, with far more screentime and dialogues. Uh-oh. And if you thought his dubbing was bad in the aforementioned film, they managed to fuck it up even worse here, believe it or not. I laughed and chuckled every time he opened his mouth, but since the film itself is an incoherent goofball which is hard to take seriously anyway, it didn’t ruin or distract my attention from anything, really. So, yeah, Manhattan Baby is clearly one of Lucio Fulci’s weaker films when it comes to tone, pacing and…well, the absent of any logic when it’s actually needed. It isn’t totally hopeless, though, and just to repeat myself as I always do when I’m talking about a Fulci film, it has some great qualities among the cheesyness. The horror elements sticks out with some gory scenes, as always, with the highlight being a scene with some attacking stuffed birds (with the wires clearly visible). There’s a great soundtrack, competent camerawork, and a dose of atmosphere.  I especially liked the Egyptian scenes which are beautifully shot. And of course there’s no Fulci film without a countless use of obsessive eyes-close-ups.

 

Manhattan Baby

 

Director: Lucio Fulci
Country & year: Italy, 1982
Actors: Christopher Connelly, Laura Lenzi, Brigitta Boccoli, Giovanni Frezza, Cinzia de Ponti, Cosimo Cinieri, Andrea Bosic, Carlo De Mejo, Enzo Marino Bellanich, Mario Moretti, Lucio Fulci, Tonino Pulci
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0084298/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PICTURED – Horror short

A creepy picture plays with the fear of a woman. Maybe, there is a connection between the girl in the picture and the woman who tries to find out the secret behind the glass.

 

Pictured is one of David F. Sandberg’s earlier horror shorts (one he made right after the Lights Out short). Just like his other horror shorts, the concept is simple but still effectively creepy!

 

PICTURED - Horror short

 

Director: David F. Sandberg
Country & year: USA, 2014
Actors: Lotta Losten, Hanna Johansson
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt3912408/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictured – Horror short from David F. Sandberg on Vimeo.

 

Prosjekt Z (2021)

We’re in the 1980s somewhere in the Norwegian forests, where the young couple Rebecca and Thomas are on a car trip. They run over a dog, and assume that the owner lives in the old victorian-styled hotel not so far away. Rebecca takes on the task to enter the hotel, which seems to be abandoned at first glance. But a horde of zombies suddenly show up, with the transsexual zombie-hotel owner itself Mor Monsen (Mother Monsen). This is not really happening, by the way, we are at the beginning of a clunky student film called “De Døde Våkner” (The Dead Awakens) and we get a series of behind-the-scenes footage that documents the film shooting, that goes from chaotic to the brink of disaster, and a showcase of how the film industry may not be as glamorous as one might think.

 

We meet the insecure director Julie Lundgreen with a big ego who has her script carved in stone, and is constantly in a protecting mode of “her vision” while the film’s main character, Rebecca, played by Iben Akarlie, is a feminist who tries to persuade the director to skip the scene where she has a threesome with two zombies. Nearly everyone are obviously amateurs, and gets really starstruck when they hear that the veteran Dennis Storhøi, which is one of the biggest movie stars from Norway, will play the role of the transsexual zombie. It does not take long before he starts fighting with the film crew and makes the director cry, and realizes that this is way too amateurish for a serious movie star like him, while he strongly misses the good ole’ days. So what else can go wrong here? Of course, a meteor strikes right next to the filming location, that could have been something straight from Alien, and someone is stupid enough to stick his hand in it. Not a good idea..

 

So what exactly is this? Drama? Comedy? Horror? All of the three, I would say, plus some turbulent relationship drama and how crazy you have to be to make a film with a low budget, little resources and zero experience. Meta-film, as it is called, although it is more in the mockumentary territory with a clear inspiration from The Blair Witch Project. The Japanese One Cut of the Dead also comes to mind even though this is a completely different beast. This is far from a traditional horror film, and in fact the first of its kind that has been made in Norway which puts it in a unique light. The monster scenes are placed in the back seat where the focus is mostly on the chaotic film-making, which may be a disappointment for some. What makes the film work so well is the dysfunctional relationship between the characters, and surprisingly good acting with dialogues and a dynamic that seem both organic and natural, while the line between fiction and reality gets somewhat unclear.

 

Prosjekt Z

 

There are many fun moments here, especially the scenes where the stressed director goes into full Stanley Kubrick mode and wears out the actors with an x-​​number of takes till they act badly just on purpose to taunt her. And Dennis Storhøi as the more eccentric version of himself made me laugh several times. Unlike the role he plays, he seems to really have a blast in Project Z and is one of the main reasons I will re-watch this movie several times. The only thing that does not work as well, is the ending, which seemed a bit anti-climatic.

 

Technically, the film looks really good. It’s limited with shaky-cam, which is a plus, and the aesthetic with the victorian-like surroundings gets a lot of room to shine, thanks to steady cinematography by Oskar Dahlsbakken, the brother of the director, Henrik Martin Dahlsbakken. The older audiences will also appreciate the fact that “The Dead Awakens” segments are filmed in the old-school way at 35mm, while the documentary is shot digitally in various formats. Considering that director Dahlsbakken can make two films a year, completely independently and outside the studio system, one could expect some direct-to-DVD cheapness, but it’s surprisingly competent. And the guy seems to have a good sense of humor and the ability to mix genres without it getting muddy. So yeah, it will be interesting to see what he does next. And as we speak he is already in post-production with his next horror film titled “Possession” which seems to go in a far more serious direction. I’m already excited.

 

Prosjekt Z

 

Director: Henrik Martin Dahlsbakken
Country & year: Norway, 2021
Actors: Eili Harboe, Vebjørn Enger, Iben Akerlie, Dennis Storhøi, Ole Christoffer Ertvaag, Alfred Ekker Strande, Regina Tucker, Jonis Josef, Arthur Berning, Alexandra Gjerpen, Laila Goody, Benjamin Helstad
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt11444644/

 

Tom Ghoul