These reviews are part of Nevermore Horror’s continued coverage of the Blood in the Snow Film Festival.
Seeing as the other guys were all covering a feature film and that I enjoy the short films the most, I decided to sit down and go through all of the short film entries for the festival so that you, dear reader, can prepare yourselves for the ones that you absolutely can’t miss; the ones that will kill you with laughter, gross you out, or perhaps slightly unnerve your fragile sensibilities. There was a lot to get through and so much of it was amazing, but there were a few that stood out a little more than others. I am in no way affiliated with the judging of this festival and these are my personal opinions on the best of the fest.
The lighter side of the horror genre.
An ex-con lands an interview for a respectable well paid job, but soon realizes the position is neither respectable, negotiable, or easily digestible.
Long Pig shows that with the right script, the right actors, and the right vision, one can create a masterpiece with minimal cast and crew. The dynamic between Raymond (Dave Walpole) and Mr. G (Tommy Power) is fantastic and it absolutely holds the production together. Power is quick-tongued, witty and somewhat debonaire. Walpole comes across as the opposite, somewhat sluggish and slovenly. The banter between the two and the direction the discourse takes is just pure fun. Power, in my mind, is a definite contender for a best actor nomination. All-in-all a good watch.
A gritty superhero’s interrogation of an electro-shockingly maniacal supervillain gets derailed when her trainee arrives.
Although starting off rather cringe and campy, this one really grew on me. Not really a horror but it gets a pass because I just enjoyed the fun that everyone seemed to be having with the film. Kira Hall, playing the title role, was also a writer/producer for the short and was definitely a stand out for me in the Funny Frights category. Not a masterpiece by any means but definitely a lot of campy goodness stuffed with cheese if you into that kinda thing.
I cannot really post any pictures as that would just spoil the whole thing. This is the least heterosexual short film that I have ever watched and I mean that in the most wholesome of ways. I cried. It was beautiful.
Asking for a Friend
An absolute masterpiece. 10/10. The plot is simple and the story has been done before in different ways but everything else is off the charts. Asking for a Friend has probably the best practical effects I’ve seen in a horror-comedy since Lunch Ladies. The score is amazing, the editing excellent, the acting award-worthy, the pace exhilarating, and the humour as dark as the blackest black times infinity. The production value is really high and the film must have had a decent budget to pull off what is easily one of the best shorts I’ve seen all year–if ever. If you can only see one funny film at the festival, see this.
First-time directors and student submissions; fledgeling horror masters.
In this short thriller a man disconnects from his city life for tranquility while solo camping and canoeing through Ontario backcountry.
Another example of a microbudget horror that uses a clever concept over stacks of cash to create something brilliant. This one plays on one’s primal fears and has an unexpected ending. It’s a great concept with wonderful scenery and an excellent score and that’s all that I can really say without giving it all away.
This one started off in an overly dramatic, almost campy way. There’s a bit of “spooky” monologuing and foreboding music with flashy imagery; all very 80s doom and gloom in a fun way. The middle of the film is not really noteworthy; it’s all a build-up for the last forty seconds. Now, I’m a sucker for monsters and this one is hands-down one of the best I’ve seen in ages. The costume is amazing and the practical effects were perfection. The amount of awesome packed into that single forty-second scene is just unimaginable. It must have taken hours of editing, props, costume work, makeup…and from a director (Spencer Hetherington) that is just 20 years old. As the credits rolled, the only word that came to mind was “damn.” Definitely looking forward to more from Hetherington in the future.
This one really had me in two minds. New Woman is another possible contender for the best short film of the festival; the wonderful score (probably my favourite of the festival), the beautiful settings and scenery, the writing, the acting, the gorgeous cast…it’s all rather quite enamouring. This is one of those short films that was made with love–a pet project that had more than just money put into it. My love for period horrors probably made me a little biased as well but I can admit when I am playing favourites.
The film does suffer from being quite predictable but this is excused, in my humble opinion, by the way in which the story is told. You can tell that each scene, each angle, each prop and each set were carefully chosen and then meticulously shot and edited–from the rain falling on the braziers to the candle-lit castle walls. My only complaint is that I’d probably have preferred this as a feature-length film and not a short. The story-telling style and the overall aesthetic felt a lot more like I was watching something that had a lot more to say–a bigger story to tell–and I was eager to hear the rest of it. I’m sure you think this is a weird complaint and you are probably correct. Maybe I’m just greedy and wanted more. It’s a brilliantly made gothic horror and an expression of adoration for film.
David finds himself on a stalled train in the middle of nowhere, suddenly unable to locate his fiancée, Willa. No one has seen her but they all warn him to stay put because the train should be moving any minute. Based off of Stephen King’s original tale.
This is one of those films that you’d hate to be up against; it is going to (in my humblest of opinions) walk away with a bucket of awards. The camera work is amazing and there is a wonderful use of colour and lighting. It’s dark throughout almost all of the film but everything is as clear as day; a trick I’d wish more filmmakers would use as I cannot stand it when I can’t make out what’s happening on-screen (I’m looking at you AVP:R). It’s creepy, it’s original, it’s emotional and it’s clever. The special effects are great and it seems like it had a pretty decent budget. Definitely one to watch out for.
Stepping away from the more artistic and comical horrors, Dark Visions presents the more traditional, gruesome stuff.
This is what the hardcore fans are after. Abhorrent is a dark, chilling horror set in early-to-mid 20th century rural America. Think 1922, but more abhorrent. With a lead resembling Fester Addams, this slightly Lovecraftian, slightly satanic short truly impressed. The camera work, editing, score and creepy settings blend flawlessly to create something truly atmospheric and utterly evil. A very good film, both in its technical aspects and where the horror is concerned. Probably not a good choice for the sensitive viewer; this is a deeply unsettling watch.
Le otto dita della morte VO
Le otto dita della morte VO a very niche film. It is best explained as a trailer for a feature film that has not and may never be made. I’ve reviewed a few of these in the past and they are sometimes looking for a producer to drop the dollars to make the feature-length version, sometimes not. I suppose it’s similar to the pilot episode of a TV show that may or may not get picked up. The most famous example I can think of is Machete (2010). Why I picked this over actual short films is because I’ve personally recently been into Giallo films and this was an incredibly faithful trailer. If you know the genre and are a bit of a film fundi, you would understand why this was picked for a festival. It’s an incredibly authentic creation and I can see all of the thought that went into it; the complex shots, the outfits, the settings, the special effects, the editing, the score…this has been stitched together impeccably. I’m not suggesting this as a possible winner or an audience favourite…this is instead a shout out to the film nerds. You know who you are.
SHORTS ACCOMPANYING FEATURES
The festival also paired a few short films with feature-length productions. These were among some of the best short films I’ve had the pleasure of viewing.
Break in Break out
This one blew me away. A very daring, very different short film. With no traditional script and very little dialogue, the story is told through action and emotion. It’s incredibly fast-paced and purposefully messes with your perception of what’s occurring and with the character dynamics. This is edge-of-your-seat filmmaking and Driscoll is one to keep an eye on. More an action short than a horror film, though I guess the gore was more horror than action. Get excited to see this.
Sky So Blue
A unique and interesting concept. This is–again–a short film that uses a minimal budget and a single location intelligently, focussing rather on an intense narrative and utilizing two brilliant actors. The plot centers around a song that kills the listener and a home invasion that may or may not be warranted. This was the most memorable of all the short films, probably due to the originality of the content and the dynamic between Daniel Park and Jeff Sinasac. The score obviously plays an important role as well. There was just nothing to fault and the film is as near perfect as you can get. I absolutely loved it.
Songs My Mother Taught Me
Probably the most traditional horror movie from all of the short films. This is a Ouija board story gone wrong in the best of ways. It reminded me heavily of those birthday sleepovers we did back in the 80’s and 90’s when you’d pick up a couple of horrors from the Blockbuster…campy horrors and unhealthy snacks with tweens screaming and hiding under their pillows. Very nostalgic stuff. This was a really well-made and surprising gem. The monster is amazing and this would make bank as a full-length feature film. Investors take note.
Occasionally the stars align, Saturn crosses Jupiter and some eclipse occurs over the Ziggurats. It is within this unique cosmic alignment that the perfect horror short is born. The Remnant is one such divine creation. Whoever cast this film deserves an Oscar. Do they have that award? If they don’t, they should. The actors were absolutely fantastic and so very talented that it’s hard for me to pick a favourite. Peter Keleghan did absolutely steal every scene he was in though—a charisma of 18 or higher. I’m sure the plot—or a similar iteration of it—has been done somewhere before, but this was just a masterpiece of filmmaking and I genuinely loved it from dark start to deadly end. Fantastic filmmaking.
If you are a fan of franchises like Appleseed, Ghost in the Shell, Alita, and The Matrix, then this will most definitely tickle your fancy. This probably would have been my favourite short if I were sixteen again and nerding out, but alas…I am now a grumpy old man who desires monsters over machines, blood over circuitry, and curves over cold steel. Still a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
The selection of films for the Blood in the Snow Film Festival are some of the best I have honestly ever seen, at least in regards to the short films. I have not yet had the privilege of seeing any of the feature films except She Never Died and that alone would have been worth attending.
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