The third and final day of the amazing Panic Fest Tricks & Treats ended on a serious high note, with the oh so satisfying Short Film Showcase #3.
My love affair with this year’s Panic Fest Tricks & Treats Film Festival (#PanicTricksTreats) horror short programming continues. I began the week by reviewing the stacked short horror showcase that kicked off day one of the fest. Yesterday, I placed the spotlight on two of my favorites from horror short block #2. Today, I cover the third and final block, with a look at six more sweet, bite-sized horror treats.
This may be the final block of short horror programming, but it’s not the end of my Panic Fest Tricks & Treats coverage. Tune in tomorrow for a selection of shorts out of the fest that you can actually watch online RIGHT NOW! And I’ll be concluding the week with a look at several more shorts from some of the great filmmakers featured during Panic Fest, all of which you can immediately stream.
Look Twice (William Davis)
A night surveillance security guard spots a trespasser on the property; then regrets grabbing their attention once he realizes the intruder is paranormal.
A young security guard (Darren Lee Campbell) shows up to work the night shift at a car lot. He hates his job; it’s boring and unfulfilling. But it’s the only job he’s been able to land. Before relieving his co-worker, an older man who has been at the job for some time, he complains about how brutal the night shift is and asks how the veteran has lasted so long. His co-worker tells him to just embrace the solitude.
Depressed, the young man pulls out a portable cot, puts his headphones one and lays down. But soon he sees something on the surveillance cameras; someone is trespassing on the lot. He calls out over the loudspeaker for the trespasser to leave before he calls the cops. Not only does the individual refuse to leave, but he enters the security building, turning out all the lights. When the frightened guard is confronted with the intruder, he realizes it’s not human. What’s more, he isn’t sure if what he’s seeing is real — and neither is the viewer. Is he having a nightmare? Is he being haunted by a sleep paralysis demon? Has some evil supernatural force come for him?
Look Twice is a creepy debut short from artist/illustrator/animator William Davis from Cleveland, Ohio. Davis created, co-wrote, directed, and executive produced the short, which is currently enjoying a successful festival run. Davis is currently working on a feature film adaptation for Look Twice, and I can’t wait to see what he does with the opportunity to expand on this compelling idea.
You can catch Look Twice at a variety of film festivals, including the upcoming virtual Creepy Tree Film Festival and the Dreamers of Dreams fest out of London.
Momma Don’t Go (Rafael De Leon Jr.)
A mother and daughter struggle to survive a deadly home invasion.
We open on a black screen, with the terrifying sounds of women screaming in the background. The first thing we see is dead body covered with a sheet in the bathtub. A man, dressed all in black and wearing gloves, looks visibly shaken as he stares at the corpse. He takes a minute to regain his composure before putting on his ski mask and exiting the bathroom.
Meanwhile, a girl is sobbing over her mom as she lay dying on the bedroom floor. A woman burglar is standing in the doorway, smiling while playing with a knife. In contrast to her partner, she has no qualms about killing. The man begs her to leave, but she isn’t done yet. When the mom passes the daughter a key, she begs the robbers to take it and retrieve her mom’s medicine, along with a secret stash of cash.
I can’t reveal what happens next without ruining the fun but suffice it to say that it’s tremendously gratifying and unexpected. This is an absolutely amazing short that features great performances and a lot of emotional depth without skimping on the horror elements.
Momma Don’t Go was a real standout among all the excellent horror shorts showcased at this year’s Panic Fest.
Green Cobra (Sigurd Culhane)
GREEN COBRA is the genre-bending story of an unconventional contract killer who details to a documentary film crew her rise in a mostly male dominated field, on the backdrop of a typical day on the job; which consists of Russian mob clients, disturbing methods of torture, and maybe one too many bad ex-boyfriends.
Having read the rave review of Green Cobra from writer Alli Hartley, covering the Nightmares Film Festival, I was thrilled to see the horror comedy short was screening at Panic Fest. I couldn’t wait to check it out for myself, and I was definitely not disappointed.
A man is tied to a chair in the middle of an abandoned warehouse by two Russian mobsters. For committing the ultimate sin (sleeping with the boss’ wife), he must face the ultimate punishment: meeting the infamous Green Cobra. But this brutal killing machine, who strikes fear into the hearts of even the toughest men, is nothing like you might expect.
Enter a spunky, petite, young blonde woman (Colleen Foy) — dressed to the nines and gabbing on the phone about vision boards and yoga pants. She doesn’t look much like a ruthless mercenary. But, when she dons a stylish green jumpsuit with a cobra embroidered on the back and empties out her bag of tools on the table, it doesn’t take long before she proves herself more than worthy of her vicious reputation. In between doling out some deeply demented torture with psychotic glee, she cheerfully sits down to an interview with a documentary film crew to chronicle her adventures as a famous “Life Ending Technician”.
Insanely funny, delightfully witty, and extremely well made, Green Cobra offers up a perverse bit of girl power that I absolutely loved.
No One is Coming (The Barber Brothers – Matthew and Nathanial Barber)
A young woman awaits the return of her boyfriend at a secluded cabin only to discover that she may in fact not be alone.
A woman drives up to a secluded cabin to meet her boyfriend. And even before I saw the title card letting me know it was Fall 1980, I was struck by the spot on, vintage Halloween vibe of this spooky short.
Upon entering, she finds her boyfriend is nowhere to be found — though he left her a note telling her exactly when and where to meet him. Frustrated, she tries to pass the time as hours pass. Strange occurrences keep happening around her. But, far from your typical, horror movie damsel in distress, she’s not easily rattled. Before the night is over, however, she’ll discover the meaning of true fear.
Moody and atmospheric with a great 80s horror vibe, No One is Coming is a can’t miss short currently making its way through the festival circuit.
Elysia (Fear Crypt)
When a vampire’s child dies of old age after refusing to be turned, it drives his mother to extreme lengths to fill the void needed.
Two beautiful women are in bed together. One woman, Elysia, tells us via voiceover, “I’m going to start by telling you what it’s like living with Molly.” Her lover, Molly, is a vampire. She has a son who is dying of old age, having refused to let his mother turn him. As he passes away, Elysia tries to ease Molly’s grief by asking if there is anything she can get her. “Yes,” she replies, “I want a child.”
Regretting have asked the question, she comes home one day to find a young boy in the kitchen with Molly. Elysia yells at Molly to return him at once, but Molly refuses. Elysia worries the child is in danger, and she soon discovers how right she is.
Breathtaking to look at, featuring stunning set design and a spectacular use of color — including a stark white room containing a freezer full of blood and a pet snake, and a lushly vibrant red bedroom — Elysia is as sensual and seductive as it is horrifying. The ending packs quite a punch, and the filmmakers aren’t afraid to explore some truly dark places.
This excellent short is coming soon to the Fear Crypt YouTube Channel. Subscribe to watch it as soon as it gets released.
I’ll Be Back Tomorrow (The Summers Brothers)
Awoken in the middle of the night, a woman and her partner discover eerie connections in the nightmare she just had, only to realize they might not be alone in their new house.
Beginning with that infamous staple of the horror genre, a title card that reads “Based on a true story,” we find a couple sleeping in the bedroom of their new home. The woman is startled awake by a nightmare, which also rouses her husband. She begins to explain the details of her unsettling dream, involving her husband, their real estate agent, and some chilling details about the previous owner of the home.
As she recounts her terrifying tale, the man is startled to hear how closely his wife’s dream mirrors actual events she had no previous knowledge of. In spite of the eerie coincidence, he her there’s nothing to worry about. But when the couple hears sounds of an intruder downstairs, the nightmare world and the horrifying real world collide with devastating consequences.
With hair-raising visuals, a compelling ghost story, and effective scares, I’ll Be Back Tomorrow is a must watch for fans of supernatural spook fests.