For this night of spooks & scares, here are some horrific short films to help set the mood.
The Maiden (2016) Written & Directed by Michael Chaves
Lots of this short reminds me of American Horror Story: Murder House, one of the best seasons of that series. We have a house that contains a ghostly woman whose spirit is attached to a necklace. The ghostly woman also seems to use the jewelry as a sort of lure. Our protagonist is a real estate agent learning about her new property and trying her best to hide its dark secrets, so she can secure a buyer.
Please, Kill Mr. Kinski (1999) Written & Directed by David Schmoeller
In 1986, director David Schmoeller worked with notorious actor Klaus Kinski on the set of his film Crawlspace. As expected, Kinski was a nightmare to direct and continuously tried to find ways to throw a wrench in the production. It became especially terrible when Kinksi learned that Schmoeller went to the producers to get the actor thrown off the picture. This is a short essay film, a docu-comedy, sort of like a story Kevin Smith tells in his live shows. I haven’t seen Herzog’s My Best Fiend yet, but I suspect it covers the same territory with more depth.
Two Dollar Bill (2016) Written & Directed by Hannah Marks
Hannah Marks was born into the industry, the daughter of actors, granddaughter to a musician. She made her debut in 2006’s Accepted, a middling Justin Long vehicle. Along the way, she became interested in directing and has jumped into the deep end. After a series of successfully received shorts, she’s made a feature film with another in the pipeline.
Little Deaths (1996) Written & Directed by Lynne Ramsay
I need to explore the early work of Lynne Ramsay. She’s made two of my favorite films of the 2010s, We Need To Talk About Kevin & You Were Never Really Here. Small Deaths was her debut short after graduating from the U.K.‘s National Film and Television School. The film is composed of three vignettes centered around an unnamed girl growing into adolescence and early adulthood.
The Wrong Trousers isn’t the first outing of the stop motion characters Wallace & Gromit or even the first short to won Nick Park an Academy Award. That honor belongs to A Grand Day Out, also a great short film. However, The Wrong Trousers was incredibly commercially successful for a short in an era where that form of a movie just doesn’t get much attention or distribution any longer. Park never tries to elevate the themes of his story beyond just pure fun and a well-told tale of a dog, his owner, and an evil penguin.
Gregory Go Boom (2013) Written & Directed by Janicza Bravo
This is another short film from director Janicza Bravo who brought us “Eat” from the first showcase. This short film won the award for the best short film at Sundance the year it was released but also drew the ire of some attendees who were uncomfortable with the picture. This is expected because Bravo intentionally makes awkward, painful dark comedies.
He Took His Skin Off For Me (2014) Written by Maria Hummer and Ben Ashton Directed by Ben Ashton
He Took His Skin Off For Me walks that line between grotesque and beautiful, a contemporary fairy tale with relationship dysfunctions working underneath. The story is told entirely in voice-over from the unnamed female protagonist. She explains that she asked her male partner to take his skin off for her, a move that is never questioned and makes sense in the magical realist logic of the narrative. He does so but immediately encounters problems. There are bloodstains everywhere, sanguine footprints and crimson smears on the floors and furniture. His job is public-facing, and he tells her clients are pulling their business because of their discomfort with the man’s appearance. The woman tries to look on the bright side of all these setbacks, but her partner is withdrawing. During a dinner party, he answers in monosyllabic single word responses, a behavior that is very unlike him.