AxWound Film Festival 2021 concludes with a perfect bonus block of short films from some of the fest’s most inspiring alumni filmmakers.
Just when you thought you had seen all the killer highlights of the packed AxWound Film Festival, we have one more treat! Featuring ten tantalizing short films from the festival’s alumni filmmakers, It’s My Party and I’ll Die if I Want To is an impressive collection of bonus horror shorts available on Vimeo for only a $1 rental (48-hour viewing period).
These extra bites are part of a collaboration with The Future of Film is Female — an organization that encourages and helps fund women and non-binary filmmakers. Be sure to check out their campaign to support these new and diverse voices and stories. And, in case you missed it, be sure to check out our coverage of the Alumni Filmmaking panel from AxWound, hosted by The Future of Film is Female founder Caryn Coleman.
1. Inside the House
Inside the House starts out with a girl (Marissa Kaye Grinestaff), who, if you haven’t already assumed, is alone in a house. Rocking out to music in jean cutoffs and a ponytail, the vibe is a more retro one, probably sometime in the 80s. It’s a great throwback. But just as you want to get lost in the time period and environment, it turns out the girl is being watched.
Staying clueless as one would in a large woodsy cabin, full of large windows, the girl starts chopping vegetables and we can’t help but feel the anxiety. Flaunting a large chopping knife while being watched, only leans into the idea of this being a weapon.
But this is a horror short has something else going on, and it’s obvious that this isn’t going to be your typical slasher or home invasion situation. That’s when the girl stops to sneeze and I’ll leave it to the imagination about what happens when someone sneezes with a knife in their hand.
At this point, I’m afraid I’ve given away too much because I highly recommend that you check this one out!
From writer/directors Dycee Wildman and Jennifer Bonoir, Inside the House should fulfill your slasher needs in a new kind of way.
Check out the film’s teaser here. Inside the House was featured in the horror anthology The Source of Shadows in 2020, which you can rent here on Amazon or watch for free on Hoopla.
2. Imagine a World
When David (Tevin Wolfe) is approached by a door-to-door salesman (Robert Notman) trying to get information about their internet plan, it is immediately evident that something is not right. The man is asking way too many questions, being intrusive as he invites himself in when he smells popcorn.
Evolving in what quickly starts to appear as an invasion, without being sure of his intentions, the man really just seems overly concerned about their internet connection. The explanations he provides for why they need better service become more and more extreme, making us all question the safety of David and his sister Jennifer (Gina O. James).
As he starts to threaten Jennifer with a knife pointed at her, it is still unclear just how dangerous the situation is, because, while holding the knife, he’s also still trying to make the family comprehend the importance of better and more adequate service.
From filmmaker Joanna Tsanis, Imagine a World is an excellent example of where commercialism and the monopolization of internet services are probably headed.
Check out the film’s trailer here. You can also watch the short in full via Alter on YouTube.
3. The Appointment
Sitting in a fancy waiting room, Paul (Mike Burnell) and ‘Alex’ (Pia Thrasher) realize they are waiting for an appointment with the same person, at the same time.
Paul thinks it’s strange, since he’s never even met the boss, and this woman hardly even has any experience. He tries to act confident about his meeting, but he is clearly not 100%, considering he doesn’t even know what he’s there for.
Directed and written by Pia Thrasher, with co-director Jared Jacobsen, The Appointment clearly has some kind of trick up its sleeve. The reveal could go in many different ways, and it is satisfactory when it does get there.
Another playful horror-comedy, Pia Thrasher clearly has a knack for these types of films.
Watch The Appointment now on YouTube.
4. Messed Up
Not just a regular mess, this couple live in a TOTAL freaking mess of a place. Ellie Race plays a girl who lives with her boyfriend who is struggling to support her and deal with her mess. He is obviously having a hard time as he attempts to stay patient, watching her throw tissues onto the floor, next to a bowl of cereal that has been there for three and a half days (and don’t you dare say four days if it’s only been three and a half).
After a day of making more messes (I’m guessing), the couple ends up on the couch for a movie night. It’s interrupted by a knock at the door, where an intruder attacks the girl’s boyfriend and comes after her.
The chase scene that follows as the criminal stumbles through the mess is clever, witty, and embraces the disaster.
From Lucé Tomlin-Brenner, Messed Up is both comedic and tense as it navigates through a relationship and their apartment.
Check out the film’s trailer here. And be sure to check out Tomlin-Brenner’s incredible podcast “It’s Always Halloween”.
From filmmaker Monika Estrella Negra, Flesh dives directly into the punk scene where we meet Rae (Ester Matthews Alegria), a young Black woman trying to make the most out of her life. Unfortunately, she’s amongst people that belittle and ignore her.
Surrounded by a community of fellow punks, a place that should be a comfortable and welcoming space for Rae, she’s instead ignored and devalued. Her own friends ditch her and make racist comments about her hair.
Fed up with the destruction of her soul, Rae can only take so much harm, so she turns the pain on them. Becoming a new character, Rae attempts to take back control of how everyone else has made her feel.
Flesh is Monika Estrella Negra’s first short film and a perfectly appropriate introduction to her later films that continue to explore the horrors of reality from violently racist origins.
Check out the mesmerizing Flesh trailer here.
6. Black In Red Out
In writer/director Monica Suriyage’s first horror film, Black In Red Out, the opportunities of hooking up are met with the chances of a zombie outbreak.
Two girls are getting ready for a party where we meet Meryl (Chelsey Colosimo) prepping to seduce her crush, Davey (Shaun Sutton), at a party that night. As it usually turns out in these types of lustful situations, Davey hardly seems interested in Meryl. She continues to try to lure him in, but he’s got his focus on other girls.
Meanwhile, as the party grows, so does some gross mold in the bathroom, and it’s only a matter of time before someone touches the contamination.
What quickly turns into the average zombie outbreak brings Meryl and Davey even closer as they try to survive. What seems like their ideal opportunity to get closer to each other, turns into a rejection. Then another rejection that is a bit more severe.
Hilarious and entertaining, Black In Red Out could easily be made into a feature that would be like combining Booksmart (dir. Olivia Wilde) with a zombie movie.
Check out the film’s trailer here. Discover more of Monica’s work here.
7. Prelude: A Love Story
In England Simpson’s directorial debut Prelude: A Love Story, Simpson plays Sarah, a woman who has survived a deadly situation. Now attempting to live a normal life, Sarah is struggling to fit in.
Sarah clearly doesn’t want to become the killer that she is turning into, but that doesn’t stop her from murdering her neighbor’s dog…and her neighbor.
This narrative of survival is a tragic one, a terrible witness to what happens to Sarah, and the people around her, as a result of the violence she had to endure.
Watch the film’s trailer here.
8. Coming Alive
Coming Alive begins with a woman (Elizabeth Walsh) who plays the organ for a church, buying a used one for her own use. While she’s clearly very good, her talents are limited to what she’s told to play and what the church deems as appropriate or necessary.
After having an evening of playing her new organ at home, the woman experiences a new type of creativity and passion. Her artistic and creative self is expressing itself in a way she probably didn’t know she was even capable of.
As art does, the music consumes her, she tries to play her new techniques at the church and is sent away. Luckily, she takes this opportunity to return to her new love, where she takes on, not just a new sound, but a whole new gorgeous and monstrous look.
“Owning your true self is a painful process that can require you to sacrifice things you once considered gospel. So when the world demonizes what you hold dear, whether it be your gender, race, sexuality, country, or expression, you have a choice; let your light burn bright, or extinguish it. COMING ALIVE for some is a horror, so be monster.”
Another amazing short by Dycee Wildman and Jennifer Bonior, Coming Alive is beautiful and exciting.
Discover more of Wildman’s work here.
9. They Will Know You By Your Fruit
Another thoughtful short from Monika Estrella Negra (also acting in this film), They Will Know You by Your Fruit is the more abstract of the films we’ve seen from her so far, but the message remains similar.
Part of her “Vengeance Anthology”, the film features images of egg yolks, blood, and death, leaving the viewer to decipher the discomfort and pain.
Given a theme of the horror and violence that Black lives experience, it is impossible to not think about this one for long after you experience it.
You can watch the film right now on Vimeo.
10. Killing Time with Lizzie Boredom
Filled with intriguing clips of her own show, a woman (Elizabeth Theis, who also directs and co-writes) has inherited a house after her parents tragically and ‘mysteriously’ died (wink, wink).
Knowing she is meant for big things, she stars in her own TV shows and clips.
From face yoga to cooking shows, Lizzie does it all, although it’s all for her own eyes. Living in isolation is enough to make anyone mad, and it doesn’t help that she was already there.
A turkey stuffing scene is enough to send anyone into a fit of laughter and tears. I don’t know what’s going on inside the minds of Elizabeth Theis and co-writer Kate Mercier, but it’s a horrific delight.