Season’s Greetings, Fright Fans! Chris here. I’m hoping you are all well fed and warm as we wrap up 2022, and to us all transition into the new year, we are going to be doing a series of posts providing our personal selections for some of the best horror short films we’ve watched this year. I get the privilege of kicking things off, so let’s dive right in with my list of ten, in alphabetic order.
The Backrooms (2022) – by Kane Pixels
You ever play a video game and have a moment when you fall through the terrain or a wall? At the barest explanation, that is what 17-year-old Kane Parsons (aka Kane Pixels) did in this incredibly impressive and unbelievable short. An amateur film crew is making a film when the cameraman falls down, but he falls into another dimension instead of just landing on the ground. A seemingly never-ending maze of yellow wallpapered corridors lays before him, and an ominous presence may be waiting around any corner.
Made with zero budget and released on YouTube early this year, the initial short has gone on to develop a series of clips and shorts to expand this universe, with other fans contributing to the lore. Since the original short dropped, it has garnered over 43 million views! (Available on YouTube)
Do No Harm (2017) – by Roseanne Liang
When an elderly man with crime syndicate connections needs lifesaving surgery, he chooses well by getting a surgeon who will go to great lengths to insure that rival gangsters will . . . Do No Harm.
This has to be one of the more creative fight scenes I have ever seen in an operating room, even if that is a pretty short and niche list. The story, the pacing, and the resolution in this one are everything you can want in a short film. (Available on Shudder in the Etheria Collection)
Goodbye (2015) – by Tyler Russo
Picture combining parts of Phil Tippett’s Mad God with the aesthetics of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, and then set it in the employment office for the afterlife. That’s the best shorthand I have to describe this tasty and twisted bit of existential dread where a man who has died in a car accident faces a series of faces who will determine his placement. A great bit of stop-motion animation that may leave you questioning just what you have done with your life. (Available on YouTube)
Halloween: Harvest of Lost Souls (2013) – by Jay Burleson
Jay Burleson popped up on my radar this year with the festival release of faux franchise The Third Saturday In October and The Third Saturday In October Part V. No, there are no part II, III, or IV, and Burleson advises viewers to watch V before I. This kind of unconventional lunacy always gets my attention, and I did stream both films from the Popcorn Frights Festival in August.
After seeing them, I checked his IMDb and found he had done this fan-made trailer for a third Halloween film that never existed, but damn, would I love to see it! This short captures the homage-almost-parody line that Burleson would go onto do even better in his feature films. Eagerly anticipating anything else he releases, and I hope the TTSIO make it to Shudder or Screambox in the near future. (Available on YouTube)
Hide and Seek (Kakurenbo) (2013) – by Kayoko Asakura
I’ve found that I’m a sucker for Japanese ghost stories, and this bite-size bit was a satisfying selection. A young girl visits a house, seeking music lessons. The woman of the house seems slightly on edge from their first interaction, and the story unfolds from there. I feel this was a perfect and compact way to tell a story such as this, and I will say no more. (Available on Shudder in the Etheria Collection)
Honeymoon (2016) – by Ruth Pickett
I love comedies the way I love my coffee: black as midnight on a moonless night. Ruth Pickett delivered a savory cuppa in this short that at times reminded me of Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers. A slightly repressed and prudish couple booked an Airbnb for the titular honeymoon, but on arrival find that the cottage also meant for swiggers, role-players, and other kinky activities. It even comes with its own mistress to help with any problems you may have! Of course, a comedy of errors ensues, and the couple quickly strengthen their martial bond over disposing of a body and tapping into knowledge gained from true crime podcasts and TV shows. This was a great laugh to have in the middle of all the research viewing I was doing, and I hope it gives you a bit of a tickle as well. (Available on Shudder in the Etheria Collection)
Job Interview (2013) – by Julia Walter
With the current market, landing an interview can be brutal. Sometimes, the interview itself can be murder. In this German short, Lisa sits for an interview with her potential employer, Marie. Everything has the appearance of going well in this well-lit, fashionable business office, but appearances aren’t everything, are they? There is a delicious and well-crafted twist that I really enjoyed in this one that goes dark quicker than you may expect. (Available on Shudder in the Etheria Collection)
Not Alone In Here (2020) – by David F. Sandberg
Told almost exclusively through the interior monologue of the lead, we are given the story of a woman who lives alone yet feels that she is never truly alone. Is it all in her head? Settle in for six minutes of brilliant atmospheric horror and dread to find out. (Available on YouTube)
De Noche Y De Pronto (Suddenly, One Night) (2012) – by Arantxa Echevarria
By happenstance, I actually have a Christmas season short for my list with this entry from Spain. A woman is running late for a party when a desperate man, who says he is her upstairs neighbor, comes knocking at her apartment door. Claiming that someone broke into his flat while he was out and is still in there, he begs her to let him in. The next 20 minutes is an intelligently devised high stakes game of who do you trust. This one genuinely kept me guessing until the final moments. (Available on Shudder in the Etheria Collection)
Slut (2014) – by Chloe Okuno
After watching and loving Chole Okuno’s feature film Watcher, I obviously wanted to see more of her work. Well, this short from 2014 goes dark and gory in the best ways possible, and it may be my true favorite on my list. Lonely 16-year-old Maddy lives in a backwater Texas town with her wheelchair-bound and desperately craves love and romance, which she might only be able to find at the local roller rink. But, as bad luck would have it, she gets found by a sexual predator instead.
This short goes literally balls out faster than you will expect in its 21 minute runtime, and I highly recommend giving it a watch. You may be picking up your jaw from time to time. (Available on YouTube)
That wraps up my list! Be sure to check in weekly for Joe and Jenny’s lists to tide you over until we record again in early January. Thank you all for reading and listening. Happy Holidays!