Welcome to the third installment of my ongoing series of articles that collects great horror short films.
If you have not already done so, please check out the first two installments of this series “Watch 15 Great Horror Short Films” and its follow-up “Watch 13 More Great Horror Short Films” not only because you’ll love them but also because films and filmmakers mentioned in those articles are referenced in this one.
Short form horror aficionados will also want to check out a recent article I wrote called “The Greatest Horror Anthology Film Segments of All Time”.
As you readers know, the horror short film is an artistic endeavor that can serve as a film industry calling card. A perfect example of this is the recent announcement of the feature film version of Can Evrenol’s superb horror short Baskin.
Combine successes like that with the very strong film festival presence of horror shorts and the ongoing popularity of horror anthology films like the ABCs of Death series and the V/H/S films and it’s an obvious conclusion that short form horror is a vital part of the genre, now more than ever.
The selection criteria for these articles remains the same: choices are limited to live-action horror shorts not produced for an anthology film and no horror-comedy is considered. Public availability is also a determining factor in the selection process.
Special thanks go out to Marc Roussel and Matthew Garrett.
As with the previous two articles, the films are arranged chronologically by release year.
Written & Directed by Ben Steiner
Loyalty becomes a life or death issue for a pair of estranged friends who used to share a grisly occupation in this atmospheric short film.
A very fresh approach to a familiar subject, The Flea presents the most un-romanticized take on a monster-killing Savant character you are ever likely to see on film.
Steiner is currently on a successful festival run with his latest horror short film The Stomach.
Written & Directed by Matthew Garrett
Garrett creates a disturbing take on the “killer kids” subgenre with Beating Hearts, a short film you are not likely to forget any time soon.
This film can also be seen as an outstanding entry in the world of the domestic horror film occupied by other great short films such as Douglas Buck’s Prologue and Brandon LaGanke’s Play House.
Garrett previously made the excellent short film Ellie which he later incorporated into his feature film Morris County which is soon to be released by Unearthed Films. The filmmaker is also the curator of the Vivisections Horror Short Films program at the Mausoleum of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia.
Written by Danny Casco & Simon Ratziel
Directed by Pablo Pares
This short is something of an unusual case in that it was first promoted as a stand-alone short film (and continues to be listed that way on IMDB) then was later revealed to be the first chapter of an as yet uncompleted 5-part series.
I’ve included it here since I, along with many others, first became aware of it as a stand-alone piece.
Classification arguments aside, the post-apocalyptic Daemonium is an incredibly ambitious must-see that translates elements of Japanese anime into live-action filmmaking even more successfully than a large number of Japanese live-action films manage to do.
Hit the CC icon for English subtitles.
Written & Directed by Alexander Yan
Filmmaker Yan takes a deeply unsettling look at a woman seeking her own death online.
Shorn of all genre trappings, Yan’s Elko is a more high-tech version of the type of human horror you see in the works of Douglas Buck, Brandon LaGanke and Matthew Garrett.
Try shaking this one off without supreme effort.
Written and Directed by Raul Cerezo
In the world of dark magic, rituals must be performed according to strict rules. If those rules are not followed to the letter, the events of 8 might be the result.
A film that would have been very at home as an episode of the Boris Karloff-hosted Thriller or Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, this short would put a smile on the faces of the late, great horror writers Robert Bloch, Fredric Brown and Richard Matheson.
Written & Directed by Aaron McCann & Stefan Androv Radanovich
This accomplished piece of apocalyptic cinema is obviously not for any readers suffering from zombie burnout.
For those readers not afflicted with that particular cinematic condition, you are in for a very well made look at one man’s struggle with the end of the world as he knows it. Perished has shades of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend and that is intended as a very strong compliment.
Written & Directed by Francesco Picone
Also know as Io Sono Morta, I’m Dead is a superb example of the “sleeping giant awakens” story you see in other acclaimed horror short films such as Mariano Baino’s Caruncula and Josh MacDonald’s Game but Picone does it better here.
Currently in post-production on a zombie feature film based on his 2013 short Anger of the Dead, the filmmaker also made the horror short Martyn in 2013 but I’m Dead remains his most accomplished short form work to date.
As with Daemonium above, hit the CC icon for English subtitles.
Written & Directed by Peter Czikrai
This horror short took second place in the Bloody Cuts “Who’s There?” short film competition it should have won.
Czikrai previously made the memorable short film M is for Malnutrition which was featured in the second volume of this series of articles on horror short films.
The apocalyptic auteur is currently on a festival run with his latest horror short film Good Night. You can stay caught up with Czikrai’s work on his website.
The Last Halloween
Directed by Marc Roussel
Written by Marc Roussel & Mark Thibodeau
A group of costumed children go door to door in a ruined neighborhood carrying bags of candy and some dark secrets in The Last Halloween.
This excellent apocalyptic short film that had a very successful festival run shows both the external and internal devastation caused by the end of the world.
Filmmaker Roussel had previously made the award-winning 2010 horror short Remote but The Last Halloween is a more accomplished and effective piece of work that also happens to feature the welcome presence of Canadian character actor Julian Richings.
In the massive and ever-growing world of horror shorts, a film has to be unique to stand out and The Last Halloween is definitively unique.
Written & Directed by Andre LeBlanc
It is not uncommon for a horror short film to play like the opening scene of a feature film as is the case with great horror shorts like Pedro Cristiani’s Deus Irae, Dante Vescio & Rodrigo Gasparini’s M is for Mailbox and Can Evrenol’s Baskin among others.
However, it is very unusual for a horror short to play like the first scene of the last third of a feature film like The Storm does.
Made by highly accomplished visual effects artist LeBlanc, this film is an ambitious take on the “Arctic horror” subgenre occupied by such feature films as all three versions of The Thing, Yim Pil-Sung’s Antarctic Journal (2005) and Larry Fessenden’s The Last Winter (2006).
The filmmaker is currently in post-production on another science fiction-oriented horror short called They Watch.
Tuck Me In
Directed by Ignacio F. Rodo
Written by Juan J. Ruiz
Making a truly memorable ultra-short horror short film is no easy task but Rodo and Ruiz achieve that difficult goal with Tuck Me In.
If you like your short horror very short, watch this back-to-back with Jason Eisener’s One Last Dive which is featured in the second volume of this series of articles on horror short films.
Written & Directed by Americo Siller & Tyler Mager
A couple’s painful emotional situation is taken to the next level by a meeting with a stranger in Witch.
This is the first short film from this talented duo and we should hope to see more soon.
Special Added Attraction: Fake trailers fall outside the scope of this series of articles but I simply had to include Todd Cobery’s great The Dead Won’t Die as a bonus feature.
This was made as an entry in the SXSW Grindhouse Trailer Competition in 2007. The contest winner ended up being Jason Eisener’s feature film-spawning Hobo with a Shotgun but a very strong case can be made for Cobery’s top three-finishing trailer being the best of the competition.
Cobery also directed the fantastic-looking horror short film Eden which has yet to be made available online.