Compact Macabre: A Selection of Horror Short Films, Part 3 of 3

Hey there, Fright Fans! Jenny here, bringing you the belated wrap-up of our Compact Macabre blog series. I’m here to bring you the weird, the strange, and the downright twisted that the Short Attention Span Theater has to offer. So without further ado, here are ten more shorts for those days when you don’t have time for a movie marathon!

Alexia, written and directed by Andre Borghi

Alexia is a 2013 Argentinian short that absolutely won my heart. Franco, played by Sergio Berón, tries to delete his ex-girlfriend (the titular Alexia) from his social media, with shocking results. Borghi manages to inject a commentary on love and loss into a tight 9 minutes, and also manages to fit some cool, creepy effects for good measure.

Bits and Pieces, written and directed by Jenn Wexler

This 3-minute, fun-sized treat was created for the 2013 Shock Till You Drop “Halloween Night” series, and stars Larry Fessenden as the guy with the best treats in town. As his nosy neighbor soon finds out though, he also has some tricks waiting!

The Cat With Hands, written and directed by Robert Morgan

This 4 minute film is short, but I wouldn’t describe it as sweet. Part live-action, part stop-motion, this film centers around the legend of a cat who wants to be human, and steals body parts from unsuspecting passersby. Warning: this film may make you doubt your cat’s intentions when they reach for you.

Firebase Volume 1, directed by Neil Blomkamp, and written by Neil Blomkamp and Thomas Sweterlitsch

We talked about 2005’s Alive in Joburg, the short that led to District 9, but Blomkamp has a vast catalogue of short films. In 2017, he started Oats Studios, a film studio dedicated to producing short films with the potential to become feature films. My favorite short from Oats Studios is Firebase, a 27-minute horror tale set in Vietnam. This short feels like the love child of Coppola and Lovecraft, and tells the story of the River God, as told by a soldier and some amazing visual effects. Sadly, Blomkamp’s plan to crowd-fund this into a full-length feature didn’t work out, but I hope someday that does come to fruition, because I need MORE of this story!

Ghost Train, written and directed by Lee Cronin

This Irish/Finnish short follows brothers Peter and Michael as they make their annual pilgrimage to the abandoned amusement park where their friend Sam disappeared when they were children. This year, however, the ghost train ride is ready to collect the remainder of their fare.

The House Call, directed by David Schuler and written by David Schuler and Julie Page

This 13-minute short follows a psychiatrist returning to work after a family tragedy. She is sent to make a house call, and quickly realizes it is more than it seems. If you love an exorcism story like I do, give this one a look!

Other Side of the Box, directed by Caleb J. Phillips and written by Caleb J. Phillips and Nick Tag

This 15-minute short has won 5 awards, including the Grand Jury Award for Short Films at SXSW, with good reason. A couple is making dinner when an old friend shows up with a cheerily wrapped gift, and makes a hasty exit. Opening the gift makes it immediately clear that this is more a curse than a gift. This odd, unsettling little film has a vibe that I would describe as Poe meets The Ring, and the filmmakers pack a lot of punch into 15 minutes.

The Strange Thing About the Johnsons, written and directed by Ari Aster

If you’re familiar with the work of Ari Aster, it shouldn’t surprise you that this, his directorial debut, is deeply disturbing. I would be remiss if I didn’t include a big trigger warning, as sexual assault is the cornerstone of this film. This film follows the Johnsons, a seemingly perfect family with some serious dark secrets. Raw, heartbreaking and bleak, this 29-minute film is not for everyone, but is a solid precursor to the direction Aster takes in later works.

Teaching Jake About the Camcorder, Jan ’97, created by Brian David Gilbert and Karen Han

This 10-minute short centers around a video of a father (played by creator Brian David Gilbert) showing his son how to use the camcorder, an “expensive piece of equipment.” As the tape is played over and over, the footage gets stranger and stranger. This odd little film won’t leave you with any answers, but is still a fun ride!

Through the Night, written and directed by Lee Cronin

This Irish short is brought to us by Lee Cronin, who also gave us Ghost Train. This film doesn’t have an amusement park, but is still a wild ride! It follows a couple who has been dealing with one partner’s chronic sleep issues, until they escalate to something far more sinister one night.

And there you have it-ten bite-sized samples of the best horrors in the dish. You can find Chris’s selections Here and Joe’s selections Here. Check them out and let us know what you think!

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