Beat those winter blues with these four fantastic shorts that prove, as much as you may want to get away, sometimes staying put is best.
It’s January, that slow and cold month after all the December festivities. Like many people, I have to find ways to counter those winter blues and get me through the dark and dreary days. And if you’re anything like me, that means fantasizing about warm-weather getaways and vacations — something to look forward to as the year progresses. I dream of escaping. Fortunately, horror offers a great way to escape, at least mentally, even if it is for a short time.
With that in mind, I’ve turned my attention to horror shorts focusing on getting away, be that a lovely weekend away, a trip to a party, or escaping from something more sinister.
1. Airbnb (4 minutes)
The first short I’m recommending is Airbnb from Los Angeles filmmaker Alex Magaña. As with all Alex’s shorts, this one is punchy, vivid, and fun.
A couple of girlfriends go out to an Airbnb for a vacation and marvel at how gorgeous the place is. But soon, subtle, creepy things begin to happen. Maybe these ladies aren’t alone in the house after all. Or maybe it’s their minds playing tricks on them. At least the host seems nice. He even left them a complimentary bottle of wine…
This one is really a good time, and I always get a kick out of Magaña’s content.
You can watch all his entertaining short films for free on his YouTube channel at ACM Official, and new shorts are added weekly. You can also follow him on Twitter at @acmofficial.
2. Weekend Getaway (5 minutes)
Next up is Weekend Getaway from Envious Studios, a studio that produces short thriller & horror films. Written and directed by Robert Moore and Kyle Hunt, Weekend Getaway stars Lisa Stevens & Cortanie Moore as two women on a road trip headed to a remote cabin location for a party getaway.
Along the way, they stop at a gas station, where they have an unsettling encounter with an older man who seems to have an ominous message. Is he just mentally ill, or is something more sinister going on?
This one has a solid ramp-up of the tension with classic slasher vibes. It almost feels like an homage to films like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th.
Envious Studios is new to me, and it looks like they have quite a catalog of shorts on YouTube. I’ll definitely be going down a rabbit hole with those in the near future!
3. Getaway (14 minutes)
Getaway is an impressive debut short from Craig Hole, which is available for free on his YouTube channel.
A tense, nerve-wracking slow-burn, this short creates a feeling of unease from the beginning. The opening shots and sparse score help to amplify the isolation that the main character (Veronica Starko) is subject to at this remote getaway location. Sound and lighting are used to expert effect, especially when our protagonist is searching the house by torchlight, a scene that really gets the heart racing!
It’s also got an unexpected ending that wonderfully subverts horror tropes.
Craig had this to say about making this short:
GETAWAY is an atmospheric short horror/thriller film. We shot this all in one day with only a few notes to go off of and a team of 3 people including the actors. We got to utilize Veronica’s amazing cabin out in Pigeon Lake, AB. It always felt like the perfect set for a horror film, and we wanted to use the space to as much as possible to help tell the story.
He goes on to add:
“This was a great project for me to work on both composition and sound design. Because we only had a day to shoot, we kept the story as simple as possible and focussed on building up an uneasy feeling through long slow shots, music, and immersive sound.”
All in all, the efforts really paid off, as Getway is an effective audio-visual treat.
4. Highway (9 minutes)
Written and directed by Vanessa Gazy, whose filmmaking prowess really impressed me, Highway is one you don’t want to miss.
Available from the always-reliable Alter, Highway follows a teenager as she is hitchhiking on the highway. She is picked up by a strange family while being plagued by reports of horrible things that have yet to happen.
This stellar short cements a feeling of dread in the viewer right from the offset and does not let up one bit. The interactions between the family and the hitchhiker, as well as the intrusive reports, all fight to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Highway is a flawless masterclass in building suspense in a very short time, and I was entirely taken in by it.
Thinking about getting away from it all as the January blues hit? Think again, as what awaits could be more than you bargained for. Instead, snuggle up on the couch with a warm blanket and discover more amazing short-form horror.