SXSW Short Film Festival @ Home – Midnight

Heat **
Directed by Thessa Meijer

This short is visually and technically fantastic, however, that’s about it. Heat is a joke with a set-up and a punchline. It definitely doesn’t overstay its welcome but I don’t particularly enjoy it. It happened and then it ended. I can imagine director Thessa Meijer doing a great job on music videos but I look for short stories when I watch a short film. 

The Doe ***
Directed by Jennifer Lumbroso

The Doe is a fairly clever critique of the rural horror genre. Helene has gone to the French countryside for a weekend with her boyfriend who spends most of his time watching horror films. Frustrated, Helene wanders down the road to a nearby village and begins misunderstanding the welcoming gestures and aid of the locals as aggression from murderous locals. The Doe does a very amusing job of flipping the final girl trope on its head.

Hand in Hand **
Directed by Ennio Ruschetti

Another joke with a set-up and a punchline. It’s weird without a point. I guess it’s funny. More of a special effects proof of concept than a movie.

Double Tap ***
Directed by Eros Vlahos

Almost falls into the substance-less joke category but it manages to eke by with a clever point and something to say about it. A young woman lays in her bed mindlessly double tapping Instagram photos to fave them. Then she comes across a goofy photo giving her a warning. This a light horror comedy made with some real style and clever choices.

Danny’s Girl ****
Directed by Emily Wilson

This feels like the seeds of a longer film, maybe not a feature but a longer short. Danny has been courting Cleo online for a while and now it’s time to meet up in real life. He’s incredibly nervous and their first moments are off to a rough start. Things get progressively weirder and I can see many people being turned off by this movie. I found it strangely charming and wanted to know these characters a bit more.

Stucco ****
Directed by Janina Gavankar & Russo Schelling

There is a wonderful hook in this short film and I often felt reminded of Nathan Ballingrud’s novella The Invisible Filth. A woman has left her longterm partner after being caught cheating. She ignores her ex’s calls and begins to be consumed by guilt. While trying to hang up a picture in her new house she discovers a wall that appears to be hollow on the other side. Subsequent nightmares increase her paranoia about this hole and it leads to a horrific conclusion. I think the conclusion of the short film tempered my feelings about it, maybe if this was feature-length and we had more time to let the horror simmer it could have been fantastic.

Laura Hasn’t Slept (Special Jury Recognition) ***
Directed by Parker Finn

This feels way too close to A Nightmare on Elm Street with nothing much else to add to the formula. It’s another technical achievement but a snore in terms of story.

Regret (Grand Jury Selection) ****
Directed by Santiago Menghini

Wow. The atmosphere in this horror short reminded me immediately of late 90s/early 00s Japanese horror. You have this ghost town of a big city and the hotel where our protagonist is on a business trip. He tells his sister over the phone that he won’t be able to attend their father’s funeral. That night things in his hotel room devolve into some truly disturbing horror. This features a very simple horror element that is brutally terrifying when you see it and remains that way through the rest of the picture. 

One thought on “SXSW Short Film Festival @ Home – Midnight”

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