Arrow FrightFest 2018 – Short Film Showcase 3 Reviews

The third and final set of FrightFest’s Short Film Showcase played fantastically to audiences delivering more laughs, jumps and scares than any main screen film I’ve sat in.

Being concise is a must for short films and I think a lot of the main screen films ran on a bit too long without because no such pressure was operating on them – either in the form of production notes or a second pair of (critical) eyes.

No such problem with these short films which all had something to offer for the time they were on screen.

The mini reviews:

Envy: A play within a play exploring envy within a drama school. The end scene monologue was delivered superbly however the central theme of envy was diluted by a slightly disjointed plot.

Special Day: If you think of the opening scene of The Graduate mixed with the conspiracy vibes of Rosemary’s Baby you get a flavour of this highly effective short. Performances, effects and pacing really helped create the authentic oppressive atmosphere of a family with high expectations. The change in tone from a family celebrating to explaining their daughter’s rites of passage could have been starker though, as in the first few moments you get that the family isn’t quite all what they seem, which puts you on guard.

The Lady From 406: I’ll be honest: I didn’t understand this one at all. There were overtones of a ghost story or a character trapped in repeating actions. That said, the direction and production design of this story set in an apartment block kept you looking at the screen.

Payment: The high cost of living and renting is explored in this funny allegory. The bite comes at the end and the pay off got a few chuckles from the crowd.

Baghead: This was the strongest of the lot and it succeeded marvellously in subverting expectations to great effect. Its pacing, dialogue and direction hooked you from scene to scene and just when you think you’ve got this short’s number, it does a complete 180 on you. It drew scares and laughs from around the floor. Stick around to the end credits though, it’s well worth it.

Puppet Master: Nothing to do with little dolls; this piece was a mixture of puppeteering and theatre performance, which explored the roles partners play out in relationships. Some lovely production design and music and great direction. My only problem was trying to understand whether we were supposed to see the puppeteer manipulating the puppet or not. Since the theme was about exploring a couple, seeing a third person manipulate the puppet brought me out of the piece.

Right Place Wrong Tim: A superb commentary on escaping the confines of overwhelming nostalgia. The set of an 80s UK sitcom where puns rule becomes the backdrop of time travel murder massacre which works to great effect. The switch between shooting styles/formats also helps create the required disorientation in the viewer so we know the threat is real.

Corvidae: A wonderful fairy tale / animal folklore short done with convincing production design and a strong lead performance. A girl nurses an injured crow she saves from a group of savage boys. When the boys target her at the film’s finale, she finds she’s made more than a few friends.

Neckface: Think Basket Case but with a Bride to be! A crowd favourite which raised more than its fair share of laughs. A bride to be wakes up on the day of her wedding with an unsightly problem. This short worked well in using the plot’s central device as a vehicle for exploring genuine anxieties while not sacrificing any of the laughs. This definitely has legs to be a longer film.

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