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We pick three of our favorites from the excellent Panic Fest Short Horror Showcase 3: a terrific trio of bite-sized terror.

Panic Film Fest may have wrapped, but we are still feeling the horror pumping through our veins as we continue reviewing the many delectable short films played. Featuring even more terrorizing tales, the third showcase was full of torment. Some horrors coming from the mind and sometimes coming from the unexpected, these shorts were full of characters fighting inner and outer demons.

Here are just a few of our favorites from Showcase 3. And be sure to check out our previous coverage of Showcase 2 and Showcase 5.

1. AFTERTASTE

A budding romance could be ruined when a dangerous secret is exposed, threatening the life of this new relationship.

Writer and director Chloe Wicks takes us through all the anxieties of a new relationship. The excitement of letting someone into your personal space blends so easily with the fear of them getting too close and finding out too much.

AFTERTASTE features an intimate couple, aroused and eager to finally get to be close to one another. Something has held them apart for so long and we can sense the relief Moll (Jessica Findlay) and Alfie (Joe Dempsie) experience as they finally come together. Soon enough we realize that Moll is holding something back, something that endangers this fresh relationship and possibly Alfie’s life. Even after trying to hide it, her exposure is inevitable and they are forced to confront her secret.

At this point, Moll is more concerned about Alfie’s impression of her (what he might make of this situation and her) and less worried about herself and how she feels to bare herself in such a way.

AFTERTASTE is brilliant as it takes something that is very much a scary reality for some, and makes it a horror story that we all can sink our teeth into.

2. THE GOOD SAMARITAN (DEN GODE SAMARITEN)

A man may regret trying to be helpful when he sees a woman stuck in her car on the side of the road.

This one is quick and hits right where it should. With a run time of about 5 minutes (credits included), this short is extremely…well, short.

From filmmakers Maria Forslin and Jonathan Norberg, THE GOOD SAMARITAN shows exactly what happens when you try to be helpful. Just kidding, of course, but seriously, while I am always amazed and delighted to see other humans being kind to one another, it’s nearly impossible to know when you ought to just mind your own business. This film plays with that concept and takes it to another extreme.

Quick, playful, and thrilling, THE GOOD SAMARITAN is almost exactly what we mean when we say short and sweet.

3. THE RULE OF THREE

A woman struggles to confront her OCD tendencies when a force challenges her to survive.

Early into THE RULE OF THREE we can see that Aly (Hannah Barefoot) does everything to the count of three. She talks to her doctor (James Warfield) in hopes to relieve herself of the heavy ritual. She needs help and deserves some peace of mind. Her doctor asks her to attempt breaking her three-count practice and reminds her of her mantras to stay in control when she needs to stay grounded.

As we root for Aly to successfully accomplish this, she experiments just once, stopping the count at just one when locking her door. It’s just enough to feel like progress, but this isolated place isn’t going to let Aly move on easily. Soon, none of us know what is real and what isn’t.  Is the face in the window actually there? Is this a home invasion film or are we just seeing what invades Aly’s mind?

THE RULE OF THREE, written and directed by Elwood Quincy Walker, haunts your mental and physical space.

No matter what kind of scares you’re into, there’s no denying the fears this film elicits.

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