As the year comes to an end, we celebrate the unsung brilliance of the horror short and recognize ten of our favorites from a year of exceptional output.
Shorts are unfortunately a very overlooked format of film, despite the endless examples of brilliant filmmaking such films can hold. Horror is no exception with many amazing horror shorts out there. So, along with our popular look at the Best Indie Horror of the Year (coming very soon), we’re also excited to reveal our pics for the Best Horror Shorts of 2019. Here’s our list of the 10 must see horror shorts, in no particular order, and the talented indie filmmakers who deserve your attention.
1. Real Artists – Dir. Cameo Wood
Featured in many acclaimed film festivals (including the Final Girls Berlin Film Festival, where we had a chance to screen it) and the winner of multiple prizes, this short sci-fi horror has most recently been nominated for an EMMY award. Original and deeply disturbing, the multi-layered film leaves you forever guessing. It follows a young animator who sets out to claim her dream job at a high-tech film production company, yet she discovers that the company’s intentions are far from admirable.
Real Artists is available to watch for a very small rental fee at Vimeo.com.
2. 42 Counts – Dir. Jill Gevargizian
42 Counts is a must watch due to its chilling fear factor and topical message. The film follows two young women as they realize that they’ve been unknowingly sexually exploited. The narrative perfectly expresses the immense fear and horror victims of sex crimes experience, bringing not only awareness but a potential understanding of the pivotal issue.
42 Counts is another excellent short we were fortunate enough to screen at the incredible Final Girls Berlin Film Festival. The film is currently available to watch for free on YouTube via Alter, or check it out below.
3. TiCK – Dir. Ashlea Wessel
TiCK is one of those shorts that you hope will be made into a feature someday. The film was well executed and darkly thrilling yet there is so much further potential for this horror sci-fi short. There is a strong hook and high stakes along with quick but fulfilling character development were as a young ‘girl’ learns to fend for herself in an apocalyptic world that doesn’t want her.
TiCK is another amazing short that has thankfully been made available for free on YouTube via Alter.
4. Other Side Of The Box – Dir. Caleb J. Phillips
Gripping and disturbing, Other Side Of The Box employs a simple yet original concept that really helps it stand out. The progressive intensity, mystery and the slight nod to Christmas makes it a perfect film to watch if you want to be slightly afraid of the presents under the tree.
Unfortunately, Other Side of the Box is still completing its highly successful festival run, having made its US premiere at SXSW where it was the Grand Jury Award Winner for Midnight Shorts. Be sure to keep a close eye out for this one and check it as soon as you possibly can.
5. Stigma – Dir. David Velduque
Centered on the horrors of living with HIV/AIDS, Stigma follows the tale of a casual hook up that goes horribly wrong. The film cleverly intertwines graphic imagery with its message to express the traumatizing effect AIDS has on its victims. Mixed with some heavily erotic scenes, the film succeeds not only in spreading its socially conscious message but also in producing a truly terrifying tale.
Stigma (Estigma), by David Velduque, screened at the Brooklyn Horror Film Fest, where we had the pleasure of screening it along with Other Side of the Box. It hasn’t been widely released yet, but this is another one we strongly encourage you to seek out at your first opportunity.
6. For A Good Time, Call… – Dir. Izzy Lee
Another socially conscious film, For A Good Time, Call… is a gripping revenge flick that puts cybersex crimes into a harrowing perspective. When a man records a sexual encounter with his partner without her permission, he is suddenly haunted by another victim. The fear and entrapment victims of sex crimes face are perfectly replicated in his horrifying short, leaving no room for any excuses such as ‘its just what guys do’.
7. Lady Hunters – Dir. Angela Atwood
Lady Hunters follows the tale of three sympathetic and frustrated mothers that are on the hunt for a local rapist. The film covers the horrid nature and culture of rape, focusing on various topical issues that make the film not only horrid but important. That tied in with the fabulous and empowering superhero identities, and occasional dark humor makes for an impressive female-lead film.
Lady Hunters, like For a Good Time, Call… can be found on the Shevenge anthology via Amazon.
8. Filth – Dir. Adam Ciolfi
Gritty and vividly violent, Filth follows an amnesia-stricken henchman who embarks on a quest to discover his origins. With some amazing stop-motion animation and cinematography, this film is as stylish as it is gripping.
You can watch this remarkable film for free on YouTube, or watch it right here.
9. Baptism – Dir. Mackenzie Bartlett
Baptism is a chilling and aesthetically pleasing short that highlights the all too familiar practice of punishing women for a man’s sexual perception of them, using enticing, raw visuals and contrasting cinematography to represent the woman’s damnation and the bleakness of the closed-off society. Overall, the film is equally disturbing as it is intriguing in its social message.
Baptism was another exceptional short I caught at the Final Girls Berlin Film Festival. It doesn’t look like it’s available to stream just yet. But Mackenzie Bartlett is definitely one to keep your eye on. Check out her filmmaker reel below.
10. Switch – Dir. Marion Renard
Switch is a smart, meaningful short that explores one of the most confusing times of any young person’s life — the first time. The narrative follows a bisexual teen who discovers a strange occurrence with her body in the middle of their first time. Frightening and shocking, the film uses supernatural elements to describe the scary and confusing journey that is exploring your sexuality. Inherently erotic, the film is also inclusive of different sexualities and genders whilst addressing the question every teenager has ever asked themselves concerning their body and sexuality; ‘am I normal?’
Still slaying on the festival circuit where it’s been touring for a little more than a year, Switch has received 80 selections, in 26 countries, on 4 continents, winning 19 awards. And it’s now a feature film project. Follow the film on Facebook for updates and remember the name Marion Renard.