In January ARROW presents an exclusive selection of the outstanding entries from its HORROR LOCKDOWN SHORTS contest, short films delivering slick, sharp scares, delving into oft-uncharted and bizarre worlds, offering a glimpse of burgeoning new talent just waiting to burst forth. The entries were judged by cult directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, who said the films are “better than they have any right to be”.
Silent and Deadly
Starting us off is the immensely enjoyable Silent & Deadly by Billy Hiller which brings us the angst of an old recliner armchair that has taken it just one fart too many from it’s owner. Couple that with the idea that the pipe smoking owner wants to replace our disgruntled armchair, the owner better be smarter.
Bringing some stop motion animation to proceedings to bring the armchair to life and make the armchair very much a relatable character Hiller has found an awful lot of fun here. Small touches such as the armchair having teeth, but objects like coins and plastic are stuck in there. When the object of our hate (the man) returns and promptly goes back to what he was doing and lets out that fatal fart, well the armchair warned the audience of what would happen. A delightful little short.
Toys follows the same sort of idea as Silent and Deadly, only there is a bit more character to these objects. Our two toys sit dutifully on the shelf looking over their young ward as Teddy begins to lament over what the parents of the child will do to him. He has a future full of pain and hate. The joy will be zapped out of him and the toys cannot have that. Oh no, they have to kill him now while he is still young. They persuade themselves that they are doing it for him. It is quite an interesting take in truth.
The toys are not overcome with rage and anger at the world, for how they are treated, they are not filled with angst from a demon or a curse. They know the future for this boy and merely think that it is best for him to not have to encounter it. With a solemn ending this is a 99 second short that certainly has the legs to be longer.
This is one that will get you jumping, without a doubt. A simple premise of a burglarly gone very wrong. There are the old clichéd tricks being used here. But, when they work as effectively as they do in Stagnant you do not care at all. The quick pans to the windows are effectively and as the tension keeps racking up you know the scare is coming and yet like are woeful burglar there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. A gem of a short film. Though one important question has to be asked, did the director Ethan Evans warn his neighbours, otherwise there had to be questions asked about a torch and a masked person in their back garden at night!
Picture this, you are walking into your kitchen late at night and you see a pencil drawing something on a notepad, but there is no one holding the pencil. Do you run or stay? It’s a horror, so you obviously stay and investigate and this is something Christian Grose most certainly should not have done.
Another short that racks up the tension with simple techniques, we are presented with a pretty ominous drawing of a ghostly demon like man at the end of the table. We know where this is going, yet The Drawing attempts to fool its audience. Pulling chairs at the right time to illicit jumps, we think when our lead turns to face the wall that our demon is going to be right there for the jumpscare. But no, there is more here and it is worth it.
The use of sound effects here is great as we continually think the jump is going to happen long before it does, causing you to squirm in your seat as you await what is next. A very strong short by director Dominic Grose.
These are excellent and something that Arrow Video should do again as we are in more lockdowns. Come back tomorrow for the last 6 of the 10 selections. Great work from these four filmmakers.
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