I tend not to go around Hollywood during the day. There’s traffic, a crowd, it’s rather touristy, and all that make it a hassle when it takes half an hour to get there and an hour to get back.
Today though, I went there because it’s the Tenth Annual Screamfest Horror Film Festival. From the program I got, it’s from October 8th to the 17th. For the regular Chewers, the opening night film was NIGHT OF THE DEMONS. The one with Shannon Elizabeth, Monica, Keena, Diora Baird, and Edward Furlong. I didn’t go opening night.
Anyway, the film festival show(ed) features and short films of a horror bent, and I specifically went today to see one of the collections of shorts.
One of my friends worked on one of the shorts chosen for the program, so I wanted to go see it on the big screen and hang out. It was fun, and it was the first time I went to the Grauman’s Mann Chinese theater to see a movie. I’m pretty sure that’s not what movie theaters in China look like though.
There were enough short films to fill an hour and a half or so, and in something that was a bit of a surprise, there was only one zombie movie in this collection. I also thought it was interesting that there only seemed to be a few American short films (one might have been Canadian). A good chunk of them seemed to be European, and there was one that was Israeli (the zombie one). No Asian ones? A quick review of program didn’t show any. I don’t know if that’s odd or not.
I haven’t watched too many short films, but it’s pretty clear that they’re different from full length features. I don’t just mean in terms of length (THEY’RE SHORTER!), but also in how they tell the story. Brevity forces them to establish characters quickly and efficiently through sparse dialogue or how they react to the situations they find themselves in. It would seem that being too short can lead to films not making any sense other than going for some type of shock ending though.
Here’s kind of what I thought of each of them, though not specifically a review. I don’t even know how much it’d make sense for people that haven’t seen any of them. Might want to skip to the conclusion then?
Or Bing for them.
CLOSURE: Israeli zombie flick about a woman reuniting with a past lover while the zombies run amok. It was okay I guess, but I kinda feel that a zombie apocalypse forcing people to re-examine how they deal with each other and relationships has been done too much lately. That was what Left 4 Dead 2 was about, right?
LE MIROIR: An actress is involved in a terrible car accident and goes to some old manor house to recuperate from her injuries. Fear and terror ensues. I think you can figure out what happens from that. It was okay, and there was some creepiness to be found with the manor house, but one of things I found was that themes and even some of the plots in the short, and not just this one, were a touch predictable. It ended exactly how I thought it would. I guess when you’re beginning filmmaking, you can ape your influences, for better (Quentin Tarantino) or worse (some of the stuff I saw today).
SHORT LEASE: A country house in England is the set for a Dr. Who-esque scary story about a structural engineer (or something?) who stumbles upon a body. It was actually pretty good, and I think that a number of the European shorts really benefited from filming in places that weren’t America. If it had been set in America, I think it would have reminded me of an episode of Supernatural.
COMATOSE: A car accident leaves one in a coma and one dealing with the burden of his or her comatose sibling. A Twilight Zone-esque flick with some nice moments of creepiness and tension as the main character deals with loss and death. And…why do people live in such creepy houses?
ST. CHRISTOPHORUS: ROAD KILL: This was probably my favorite of the collection. A young lawyer gets caught up in increasing stakes as he witnesses two cops accidentally kill a raver. There’s some real fear as one can easily imagine getting caught up in a situation where Authority screws up and you’re the only witness and need to be “taken care of.” Apparently, in Germany, there’s a crew position called Studiomeister. I just found that delightful.
THE WHITE FACE: A throwback to silent films (I think), where a woman is haunted by her sins. Spoiler warning: but the giant flaming CGI skull that represents what she did really took me out of the flick, and made me think that this movie was a thriller that had somehow stumbled into Doom II. It seemed more like a collection of interesting shots and technique than a fully realized short film.
OBITS: This was a mini-collection of even shorter shorts comprised of four chapters.
The Pack – A tense little flick about two teens on the run from werewolves and what they’d do to survive.
See No Evil – Another Twilight Zone-esque piece about a blind man that cheated on his wife. A cautionary tale about not cheating on your wife if you’re blind.
The Hood – This was weird. The program calls it “[a] tale of retribution set in the Deep South.” The ending makes no sense. I think it needed to actually explain why the thing would side with the girl.
Meredith – LET THE RIGHT ONE IN done in a couple of minutes, I guess. Seriously, that’s what it feels like it’s drawing from. And with LET ME IN just coming out, I think the comparisons are inevitable.
TOGETHER: I think this was supposed to play, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t. Don’t know why.
As a whole, I had a blast. Some nice spooky shorts, and while I don’t think they were all superb, I have to respect what the filmmakers were trying to do. I found some to be a little obvious though, and while I think that learning from the work of previous filmmakers can be an important tool, mimicking it can lead to material that just feels tired.