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GenreBlast shorts

We celebrate the artistry, creativity, and talent of the genre’s best, rising filmmakers with 13 outstanding shorts out of GenreBlast.

The GenreBlast Film Festival is a one-of-a-kind film experience created for both filmmakers and film lovers to celebrate genre filmmaking in an approachable environment. Among our absolute favorites, the fest highlights the latest in independent, cult, niche, and underground films that aren’t easily accessible. Last year, I covered several of my feature film favorites. And even with extensive coverage, I felt I just scratched the surface of the fest’s outstanding offering.

This year, I wanted to focus more on the unsung hero of the fest, the unbelievably impressive short film lineup. Unfortunately, while features get a lot of love and attention, many jaw-droppingly great shorts may go unheralded. And that’s absolutely criminal because it is nothing short of inspiring what these talented up-and-coming filmmakers can achieve on a shoestring budget and just a few precious minutes to truly make an impact.

Narrowing down my list of favorites from the fest was no easy feat. There wasn’t a dud in the bunch, and it seemed each short I watched was more impressive than the last.

But here are 13 of the shorts that moved me the most — rather though laughter, genuine terror, or even tears — and lingered in my head long after the credits rolled. 

1. Sucker (Alix Austin)

Sam discovers her sister Caitlin has been infested by a monstrous leech creature that is slowly sucking her life force dry.
 

The riveting, special-effects-driven creature feature from Alix Austin won Best FX Short at this year’s GenreBlast, and it’s not hard to see why.

In this twisted story of co-dependence, two sisters, Caitlin (Annie Knox) and Sam (Sophia Capasso), are pitted against each other by a giant, abhorrent leech creature that uses its mind-controlling influence to puppeteer them from the inside out.

While the focus is squarely on the skin-crawling, all-too-effective body horror and terrifying visuals, Sucker is also an investing and relatable tale of sibling rivalry and how difficult it can be to ask for help — especially when you’re used to being judged or feeling like a disappointment to those you love. The film’s impact is enhanced considerably by two emotional and compelling performances from Capasso and Knox.

Award-winning Director and Creative Producer Austin had this to say about her standout short:

​The intention of SUCKER is very much to give the audience a full body experience: From the sound design invading their minds down to the practical effects leaving their skin crawling long after they’ve left the cinema.

A successful short film leaves you satisfied but still wanting more, and Sucker undeniably fits the bill. After this eight-minute thrill ride, I was eager to see what the talented Austin could do in longer-form media. I was delighted to discover she’s currently working on a feature film project with Keir Siewart through their film collective Switchblade Cinema.

KILL YOUR LOVER is described as Blue Valentine meets The Fly — a psychological drama with a punk edge and skin-crawling body horror. Previously, Alix and Keir (Team AK) co-created the award-winning short RETCH, which premiered on ALTER and can be viewed right here.

Sucker is guaranteed to get under your skin and should be immediately sought out by anyone who, like me, is a sucker for outstanding practical effects. 

2. Meat Friend (Izzy Lee)

An ex-con, sentient pile of hamburger meat teaches after-school lessons to a child.
 

Full disclosure: when I saw Izzy Lee’s (Innsmouth) name attached to this film, I was already strongly predisposed to favor this short. Fortunately, however, it’s a well-earned bias, and Lee certainly did not disappoint with the hilarious and gleefully unhinged Meat Friend.

A cheeky parody of saccharine, Full House-style sitcoms — in the vein of Adult Swim’s criminally underrated Beef House from Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim — Lee’s uproarious short follows a sweet young girl named