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For this month’s short horror roundup, we spotlight some of the fantastic found footage shorts from this year’s Unnamed Footage Festival.

The UFF, or Unnamed Footage Festival, showcases Found footage films from all genres, with an emphasis on horror. The festival recently completed its seventh year, aiming to “present to the audience these films as a legitimate cinematic movement, not a mere subgenre.”

Found footage films have always been an incredibly divisive film-making style, and film fans either love or hate them. But whether a fan or not, it cannot be denied that some of the films in this style have made a true mark on the history of cinema. Found footage works so well with the horror genre because, when executed effectively, it can fully immerse the viewer in a real-life situation.

Our team was thrilled to cover some of the memorable features showcased from around the world at UFF 7. If you missed any of our coverage, I strongly encourage you to check it out, as there are some can’t-miss films you’ll want to seek out as soon as possible. However, I also wanted to take time to highlight some of the outstanding shorts that were paired with many of the fest’s feature films.

1. B E H O L D E R (Canada, 14 min.)

Unnamed Footage Festival

Something’s made its home in Thom’s camera. It wants a show, and Thom’s the star. Evoking intrusive thoughts and violent impulses, this creature projects its madness direct-to-tape.

Beholder uses a mixture of pieced-together recordings to tell a horror tale that is disorienting, abrasive, and uncomfortable. Using damaging and manipulated VHS tape to create many effects in the film is skillfully done to deliver the disjointed visuals and distorted audio.

Written and directed by (and starring) Evan Churchill and Thomas Pardo, Beholder possesses the true heart of found-footage horror, keeping the audience guessing and on the edge of their seats while employing an assault on the senses to build dread.

This short was screened at the Unnamed Footage Festival with the world premiere of the hotly anticipated Horror in the High Desert 3: Fire Watch, which producers promise will be released VERY shortly after the festival. If you want to get ready, the first two installments of the popular franchise can be watched now for free on Tubi.

2. EXTREME GRAVITY (Spain, 7 min.)

What would be the worst thing that could happen to you when trying to kill yourself? It is said that dying is not the worst, but the way you die, and Camilo is about to find out how much of that is true.

Written and directed by Lorenzo Ayuso, Extreme Gravity is a dark comedy that is as hilarious as it is bleak. A man is filming his own suicide note when he becomes terribly put off by the intrusion of a neighbor.

I watched this film with no knowledge of what would unfold and was floored by how it progressed.

What started as a grim insight into an individual’s struggles turned into something that had me laughing out loud!

Extreme Gravity screened with The Coldness.

3. HOMEBODY (US, 9 min.)

Homebody

A traumatized young woman is convinced her terrorizer has returned, but this time, she’s determined to catch them in the act.

Homebody tells the tale of a woman who becomes obsessed with her home security after a hooded figure terrorizes her home.

Directed and written by American Horror Story writer Andrew J. Paulsen and co-written by McKenzie Jo Frazer, this short combines screen life and security cam footage to effectively create tension as the viewer follows Hanna into her obsessive plight to catch the mysterious offender.

To me, Homebody highlights the entitlement and disregard for consequences that so many people living their lives online perpetuate.

This was possibly my favorite of the selected shorts at the Unnamed Footage Festival due to the mixed-media style and acting performances.

This short was screened with Looky-loo.

4. KELLY (Brazil, 9 min.)

Unnamed Footage Festival

A found-footage tale about a troubled man who builds himself a new companion.

After a man builds a companion out of sticks, he gets more than he bargained for and tries to backtrack on his plans.

Kelly feels like classic found-footage horror, with a single camera documenting unsettling visuals and a slim narrative. Written and directed by Luiz Lapin, Kelly is a very straightforward horror short with some humor thrown in, which I always enjoy.

This short was screened with Mind Body Spirit, a Screenlife horror film that has received considerable praise following festival appearances at Telluride and Chattanooga film fests. One of our favorites, Welcome Villain Films, has picked up worldwide rights and will release the film digitally on May 7 following its appearance at the Unnamed Footage Festival.

5. RED LEATHER YELLOW LEATHER (US, 12 min.)

Unnamed Footage Festival

Detective Roach follows up with a report filed by Jake on an incident that occurred the night of the 26th.

Red Leather Yellow Leather is an incredibly eerie short that delivers some authentic scares during its 12-minute runtime.

The short feels like an entirely realized concept that could work well as a feature. Instead of giving us the traditional build to a big payoff like many shorts, it ambitiously shows a fleshed-out story, an impressive feat it successfully achieves.

Red Leather Yellow Leather is another favorite of mine from this year’s selection, and I’d be keen to see much more from director Harrison McDonough.

The short screened with the 15th anniversary 35mm screening of Trash Humpers, a 2009 black comedy film written and directed by Harmony Korine. If you’ve yet to experience this grotesquely comedic, influential found footage film, it’s currently streaming digitally on The Criterion Channel.

6. TURTLE? (China, 5 min.)

A pseudo-reporting montage based on a true story about an unidentified object. All footages were taken from the Internet.

Turtle? from Yangqi Deng is like nothing I’ve seen before. It plays out like a news report, with interspersed stock footage to create a conspiracy theory around a freak accident.

Deng describes it as “a nonlinear fictional narrative piece that unfolds around questioning the turtle through imagery drawn from multiple sources, news reports, nature documentaries, mythology, scientific diagrams, and fairy tales.”

She explains:

“I create my visual map by finding connections between various unrelated events. Reality and imagination are intertwined and blurred on this map of scientific facts and myths. The turtle is both the subject and the medium, connecting the past and the future, carrying the earth across the universe.”

I marveled at the style of piecing together Internet clips to tell the story of a mysterious car accident involving a turtle.

This short put a smile on my face from beginning to end with its uniqueness. Check out this and other amazing shorts from the talented Deng on her Vimeo channel

Turtle? was appropriately screened with Frogman, which you can now rent on digital. In this festival hit, which we previously reviewed and described as a “wildly funny, unique, and inventive found-footage film,” three friends searching for the Loveland Frogman discover he is more than just a local legend.

7. WHAT I REMEMBER (US, 6 min.)

Two strangers, Sam and Ryan, meet each other in a stroke of fate. Ryan documents everything in his life with a camera, and Sam, a lonely troublemaker, welcomes him into her life.

What I Remember is a heart-breaking drama told in vignettes. This storytelling style reminded me of early Linklater films and Rafal Zielinski’s Fun, which I am a big fan of.

Even though it clocks in at around 6 minutes, What I Remember, written and directed by Alex Hera, successfully pulled on my heartstrings, especially with the delivery of the last couple of lines, beautifully and heart-wrenchingly performed.

The short was screened with the heavily buzzed-about Russian film #Blue_Whale, a bit of a white whale of found footage horror films that many have been anxiously awaiting since its debut at the Fantasia Film Festival back in 2021. It’s an emotional cautionary tale ripped from the headlines about teens pulled into a deadly online game.

EDITOR’S NOTE:

As an important aside, Alex Hera is a passionate horror fan and documentarian, and we can’t stress enough how good her documentary, The History of Analog Horror, is, which you can watch right now on YouTube. It’s an unprecedented documentary featuring ARG & Analog Horror legends, including Kris Straub (Local58), Nexpo, Nick Nocturne (Night Mind), Turkey Lenin III (CH/SS & Good Old Days), Wiktor Stribog (KrainaGrzybowTV), and Quarks & Rec (Minerva Alliance & Tapes from the Darkside).

Hera explores the history of one of the most popular, rapidly expanding, and influential developments in internet horror in the past decade: analog horror. This documentary paints a picture of the importance and impact of this genre, as well as what it may hold in the future, including digital horror.

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