Morbidly Beautiful

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We’re back with another killer roundup of hot horror bites. The short horror treats are small but mighty, packing a potent punch.

This month’s short horror roundup features two films you can watch and enjoy right now and two touring the festival circuit that we want you to keep an eye out for and see as soon as possible.

Our theme this month is consequences and the inescapable fallout of our actions. A wild bachelorette party gets out of hand; a teen couple finds themselves in murky water after a forbidden tryst; a clout-chasing man finds fame is a monster; and a political pundit chokes on the impact of her toxic rhetoric.

1. Last Night (7 min)

Short Horror Film Last Night

A woman gets more than she expected at the surprise bachelorette party. Blood, Sex, and Rock n Roll. #LiveLaughDicks

One bride-to-be has the night of her life when her best friends throw her a surprise bachelorette party. Sex, drugs, and loud pumping music drive the story to an ultimate bloody nightmare. Will our bride survive to hear the wedding bells? What are the effects of drinking molly-laced blood? Is there such a thing as too many dick decorations?

Written and directed by George James Fraser, Last Night is a wildly fun and funny short horror comedy that packs a lot of sexiness, sass, and satire into its exceedingly short run time. I adored the spot-on set decoration and exceptional attention to detail. The trio of stellar actresses — Sheri Lee, Erica Stockwell, and Katie Killourhy — deliver hilarious “soccer moms gone wild” manic energy. And it all culminates in a wickedly satisfying ending featuring three hunky male strippers (Teddy Pryor, Chad Williams, and Marco Aguirre) who give the ladies far more than they bargained for.

I’d describe it as a cross between Bridesmaids, Bo Burnham’s White Women’s Instagram, and From Dusk till Dawn. It’s a riot!

Last Night is currently touring the festival circuit, but I encourage you to keep an eye out for this one.

2. Endangered (18 min)

​The world of easy-going teenager Roger Burns flips upside-down after he’s seduced into a late-night swim with his girlfriend and contracts a rare, endangered parasite that wreaks havoc on his body… and his personal life.

Endangered is a reproductive-rights allegory disguised as a short horror-comedy featuring performances from the brilliant Cheri Oteri (Saturday Night Live), Camryn Manheim (The Practice), and Atsuko Okatsuka (one of Vulture’s 2022 comedians to watch) along with a captivating performance from lead actor Walker Borba.

We open in a dystopian world where water is no longer safe to swim in. High school teens are being instructed via a 90s-style educational video, with a spokesperson (Maneim) warning the youngsters on the perils of venturing unprotected into open water. In a very authentic-feeling scare tactic video, many of us Gen Xers and elder millennials will be all too familiar with, the spokesperson sternly warns viewers, “Save your skin. Skip the swim.”

Still, Roger Burns (Walker Borba) is young and crazy about his adventurous girlfriend, Tessa (Olivia Cordell). After a steamy makeout section in the car, Tessa announces she wants to go for a swim. The visibly uncomfortable Roger tries to persuade her against it. But her friend told her it was actually super fun, and Tessa is anxious to live on the edge. Reluctantly, Roger agrees, and the two enjoy a sexy night swim. But something is lurking in the water, a rare alien parasite, and it’s chosen Roger as its host to incubate its egg.

It’s not long before Roger starts urinating blood and is sent to the doctor (the always brilliant Oteri), only to discover he’s carrying a gestating parasite. Naturally, he’s anxious to get rid of it and return to his life of friends, fun, and basketball. Unfortunately for Roger, the parasite he’s playing host to is endangered and protected by the government. Scientists think the parasite could help benefit mankind, and it’s illegal for Roger to get rid of it. Though it may take his life, he’s ordered to carry the parasite to term — meanwhile, his girlfriend bails because he’s such a drag on her social life.

This is a wildly intelligent and ingenious satire about a serious subject.

Short Horror Film Endangered

It’s a dark comedy with some really fun comedic bite to it, but it’s also played with sincerity and a fully committed cast.

There’s a very clear message, but that message is effectively communicated without being overt and preachy. It explores the question many women have had in the recent political climate, “What if men were the ones solely responsible for the unintended consequences of unprotected sex?”

This clever subversion of a topic ripped from recent headlines is original, creative, well-shot, and well-directed. It’s funny, grotesque, and terrifying while boasting wickedly fun creature effects. It not only flips the script and shifts the burden and peril from women to men, but it also shifts those in power from moral, religiously-driven conservatives to well-meaning but equally oppressive liberal environmentalists.

The film can easily be enjoyed on a surface level; it’s a witty and twisted dark comedy that offers a fun and wild ride. But when viewed as social and political commentary, it becomes much more impactful and brilliantly executed.

Written and directed by Alex Wroten, the film was completed in 2020 during the pandemic and enjoyed a successful festival run, winning multiple awards for best actor, best director, and best short film.

View the film’s trailer below, and check this compelling short out for free in its entirety on YouTube

3. Viral (13 min)

Short Horror Film Viral

​An auto repairman fights to survive the night after hitting a mutant creature on the road.

Directed by Michael Rich, Viral made a big splash on the festival circuit, taking home “Best Recurring Nightmare” at the beloved Nightmares Film Festival.

This short horror gem begins with middle-aged Miguel (Jose De Jesus Martinez) recording himself in the auto shop where he works. He’s trying desperately to create some engagement on social media by participating in a popular TikTok dance challenge. His antics are overseen by his crew, who proceeds to mock him mercilessly. Still, the former aspiring filmmaker keeps trying to make videos and post viral content. The younger TikTok audience fails to connect with an aging Gen Xer who looks like he’s trying a bit too hard, but that doesn’t deter him.

Overheard on the shop radio, which no one is paying any attention to, is a news segment about a pharmaceutical company that is under federal investigation for injecting human test subjects with a viral disease.

Later that night, while driving to work for an overnight shift, he hits something in the road while filming another video. He can’t tell what it is; it doesn’t quite look human, but it’s not like any animal he’s ever seen. He puts it in the car and takes it with him to the shop until he can figure out what to do. The camera rolls while he comes face to face with the dangerous creature.

After a harrowing night battling the mutated, infected creature, he finally makes his dream a reality: his monster battle goes viral, giving him the notoriety he’s been craving.

It’s a dark but unexpectedly funny and triumphant short that subverts all expectations while delivering one of the best-looking practically-designed creatures I’ve ever seen in an indie short, designed by Allan B. Holt (True Blood, Westworld). It looks spectacular.

“I love underdog stories and getting the audience behind a unique character,” said Rich. “Once we decided on a literal monster as the antagonist, I knew we needed to go with bad-ass, all practical effects.” Well done, indeed.

Watch the stellar short below or for free on YouTube.

4. Pruning (15 min)


When a controversial political commentator discovers her rhetoric has inspired a mass shooting, she must contend with her conscience — by any means necessary.

Sami (played by Madeline Brewer, Handmaid’s Tale, Cam) is a right-wing political pundit. She’s controversial; it’s how she makes her living. And her exploding internet fanbase is eating it up. So when she discovers that her rhetoric inspired a recent mass shooting, she ignores it. But soon, the physical manifestation of her conscience grows harder and harder to ignore, forcing her to decide whether to get rid of it altogether.

Pruning is an unnerving, horrifically real psychological horror film exploring what it means to benefit from the human capacity for division and hate. It’s a character study about a woman who gets what she wants at the worst imaginable cost and how she deals with that cognitive dissonance. Well-acted and beautifully executed, it’s absolutely haunting and sent chills up my spine. The ending took my breath away and promises to stay with me for quite some time.

Directed and co-written by Lola Blanc, who will also be featured in the upcoming “Haunted Reels” book, this powerfully affecting short was produced and presented by Rustic Films, whose previous films include indie horror standouts like Synchronic, The Endless, Spring, and She Dies Tomorrow.

The themes are challenging and all too timely, exploring the horror of gun violence and the insidious way we politicize and commoditize everything for greed and influence, even human suffering. It’s about the unquenchable need to be right in a culture of fanatical certainty and the real-life consequences of extreme rhetoric. This shiver-inducing short desperately needs a feature adaptation.

Lola Blanc is an incredibly talented multi-hyphenate as a filmmaker, popular podcaster (her podcast about cults and extreme belief, Trust Me, has been featured by the New York Times and Harper’s Bazaar), musical artist, and actor (Under the Silver Lake, American Horror Story) who thrives in all of her mediums.

Pruning is making its premiere at the Palm Springs Shortfest on June 24th, with Blanc in attendance, before beginning its run on the festival circuit, where I have no doubt it will be hugely successful. Don’t miss the chance to see this one as soon as you can. It leaves a significant impact. 

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