Arrow FrightFest 2018 – Short Film Showcase 1 Reviews

After a hiatus from FrightFest for a few years I returned for the 2018 Festival at Leicester Square.

I’ve been out of the horror film scene for a while and came prepared to just see what’s new. No expectations for the main screen films. But the one thing I’ve always enjoyed at the festival is the short film showcase and I made a point to miss main screen films for these showcases.

Shorts are quickfire: each film lasts for as long as the idea holds and they’re executed with invention, zeal and most importantly a point of view. Not every short is great, but weaknesses can be forgiven and their nuances appreciated as the next film is just around the corner.

Anyway, in the interest of brevity here’s a rundown on what was shown at the Short Film Showcase 1. A small caveat: after drinking my fair share of water I did have to nip to the gents and so missed a few, so here are the ones I saw in full.

We Summoned a Demon: A pair of friends summon a demon with a view of one of them being gifted with the power of cool but when the demon doesn’t immediately oblige, drama ensues. The comedy around the foibles of summoning the demon, the performances, coupled with the effects and lighting, really kicked off the showcase with some much-needed fun. Fans of early Red Dwarf would like this.

Secretion: This was a very claustrophobic film and actually quite unnerving. The short was about the tension that builds between a married couple over dinner. The tension, something unspeakable and left to our imagination, is represented by a damp patch in the ceiling which grows larger and larger as time passes until the film’s conclusion. Done in black and white, with little dialogue, this short really made you work for every moment and succeeded in making you feel as boxed in as the couple.

Pie: A social coffee morning accompanied by a very special homemade pie lays the subtext for a conversation between two women who have something in common. The bright and happy production design and props plays against the eventual dark conversation and the performances deliver an emotional truth which keeps you hooked as the short takes its twists and turns.

The Front Door:  This one was my personal favourite. The smallest bit of forgetfulness on the part of a husband unwittingly invites an evil presence into his house. Cue hilarity and extended negotiations as the husband tries to get the invasion to leave his house without his wife finding out. The performance of the cult leader really made this piece shine.

Who’s That At The Back of the Bus?: A taut little piece about riding on the upper deck of a night bus alone. It’s odd choice of monster made me actually uneasy as it got nearer. Great pacing and editing.

Milk: A spooky supernatural family drama which centres around late night ventures into the kitchen. The slow reveal of the monster and the gradual build up to the abrupt climax really makes you lean in and then jump.

BFF Girls: A weird combination of Power Rangers with one of those sexual education films works to great comic effect with some genuine gross out moments. Best seen rather than explained but drew more than its fair share of laughs and ewwws from the crowd.

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