Want to gorge on horror this month but have limited time? We’ve got you covered with great short horror content that will give you a fast fix!
With the Spooky Season upon us, social media is filled with folks taking part in 31 days of Halloween challenges, watching a different film every night of October. While this can be a fun challenge and a great way to discover lots of new movies over the course of the month, it is simply not feasible for everybody. Whether you’re working all hours, have kids, are burnt out, or are just so busy with other life stuff that you don’t have time to sit down with a feature every night, it can feel like you’re missing out on the Halloween festivities.
This has been the case for me recently, but I still need my spooky season horror fix, so it is a perfect time to look for shorts.
The Internet has an abundance of talented filmmakers putting out tons of short horror content every week, and I’m going to help you find a treasure trove of great short horror content.
ALTER is a channel I mention a lot, and with good reason. The shorts they showcase are some of the very best on the Internet, and it doesn’t take much searching to find something that suits you.
ALTER has curated playlists to make it even easier to find specific types of horror so you’re not left scrolling your watching time away while you drift off to sleep. Every single time I open ALTER’s page, I discover a new gem, with the hits far outweighing the misses.
The platform is celebrating its five-year anniversary this year, and its top-notch staff compiled a killer list of their favorite short films over the years — from spine-chilling horror to stories that will make you laugh to hide the fear. If you’re new to the platform, this playlist is a fantastic way to start.
ALTER RECOMMENDATION #1: SUCKER (8 MIN)
I looked forward to watching Sucker ever since I saw it on the bill of a few festivals earlier this year. Now that I’ve finally gotten the chance to see it, it was everything I was hoping for. This unsettling and gross body horror by Alix Austin focuses on isolation, with an underpinning theme of mental illness. All the while, it gives viewers a grisly parasite to marvel at in horror.
Sucker is a British indie short from Switchblade Cinema and features great performances from Annie Knox and Sophia Capasso, respectively. Knox plays Caitlyn, a woman isolated by a growing parasite that is feeding off her, and Capasso portrays the worried sister, who is trying to help Caitlyn, not knowing the horrors that she will soon face. The parasite appears to be a metaphor for depression and anxiety and what that can do to a person.
But even with that extra layer of sub-text to read into, Austin still delivers on the body horror goods, with this sickly, slimy, otherworldly creature giving fans of body horror everything they look for in a film.
The discordant score by Thibault Chavanis, matched with the unsettling, disgusting, and downright squelchy foley sounds from Filipe Bolaño, create a truly heart-pounding experience when married with what is shown on screen. Sound designer Sean McGarrity does a magnificent job here, and this short really benefits from either watching with high-quality speakers or a good set of headphones.
If you’re looking for a slick body horror that packs a punch, then make sure to check out this absolute gem.
ALTER RECOMMENDATION #2: SPELL ON YOU (21 MIN)
The second short in my body horror double bill from Alter is Spell On You, a French supernatural family drama by Sarah Lasry. I knew nothing about this one going in, which made the slow burn of the story all the more effective.
The story is of a child called Salomé, who gets a wart on her nose, which seemingly coincides with the breakdown of her family unit and the awakening of strange powers. The dysfunctional family dynamic and Salomé’s inner struggle with appearance and acceptance work together cohesively to maintain a feeling of unease throughout.
At the beginning of the short, it appears that the family is a loving one, but once Salomé’s wart is discovered, she is shunned by her father, and this leads her to begin to see the cracks in the relationship. As she begins to receive treatment for her wart, the doctor starts to speak of spells and curses, igniting an interest in Salomé to explore the supernatural, with increasingly horrifying consequences.
Spell On You is brilliantly acted by the entire cast, but praise has to be given to Inès Angelina Mnafek-Amandio, who portrays Salomé. She deals with a range of heavy emotions and situations and shines through, making the audience fully empathize with her character.
The score by Pierre Oberkampf uses long sections of silence, which directly mirrors the slow burn of the film and truly makes an impact when the music crescendos.
2. Mycho Entertainment
Mycho Entertainment is a British independent horror movie machine headed by UK no-budget legend MJ Dixon. Every Halloween, they release a new short to their Patreon page. But if you’re not in a position to subscribe, they have plenty of short content available on their YouTube.
Their shorts feature ghoulish original characters and creatures that will leave you begging for more!
As well as creating a shared horror universe (the “Mychoverse”) in their impressive catalog of features, Mycho also boasts an impressive member of shorts, dating all the way back to their beginnings.
MYCHO RECOMMENDATION: THE THINNING VEIL (10 MIN)RECOMMENDED BY STEPHANIE MALONE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
You’ll have to be a Patreon subscriber to see this year’s Halloween short, but you can watch the award-winning shorts from previous years on the Mycho Entertainment YouTube channel.
Last year’s short, The Thinning Veil, is a banger. Written and directed by MJ Dixon, it’s a wickedly fun and extremely well-executed look at karmic justice from beyond the grave.
3. 15 Second Horror Film Challenge
Between the years of 2015 and 2020, an annual short horror challenge took place online, where filmmakers were tasked with making a horror short at just fifteen seconds long. What transpired was hours of brilliant micro-shorts, available online to lose an afternoon with.
I fell down the rabbit hole with these shorts a couple of years ago, and it was a fantastic way to take in lots of different sub-genres of horror in a quick-fire way.
Although the 15 Second Horror Film Challenge is no longer active, there are some playlists available online showcasing the best of each year that the competition ran, and it is the perfect way to enjoy horror in the age of Instagram, TikTok, and the like.
The festival was founded/programmed by Andrew J.D. Robinson, who is a highly prolific and very talented filmmaker in his own right. So, in addition to catching all the great challenge entries, you can also view Robinson’s extensive catalog of fantastic short films.
15 SECOND FILM CHALLENGE RECOMMENDATION: BEST OF 2020 (20 MIN)RECOMMENDED BY STEPHANIE MALONE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
In 2020, the last year the challenge was active (fingers crossed it comes back again after a hiatus), 375+ micro-short films were submitted. 75 of them received a GOLD laurel for excellence, plus one Platinum recipient in the “Best Films” category.
You can watch all 75 top-rated films in less time than it takes to watch one episode of a sitcom. This is the perfect way to binge a ton of great horror without ever experiencing a dull moment; it’s a jackpot for those horror fans with very short attention spans. Plus, it’s a thrill to see such creativity on display and the brilliant way so many budding filmmakers manage to deliver chills and thrills in just 15 seconds.
So there you have it, hours of horror content at the click of a button, without having to commit to 90 minutes in one sitting. This list is by no means exhaustive and barely even begins to scratch the surface of what the Internet has to offer for short horror content. I hope you have a happy, spooky season and discover something new and exciting within these links!