A Look at the Recent Surge of Brilliant Short Films
Now, when you read the word recent, understand that we’re not necessarily talking about pictures filmed last month. A handful of these pics made successful festival runs over the last few years but experienced a delay in making their way to the internet. A few others are pretty damn new. Regardless of when these movies were specifically filmed, they’ve only emerged as readily available pictures in recent memory, but every one of these brilliant short horror films more than deserve your time, attention and respect.
If you’ve got an hour or so to spare, and you’re looking for genuinely amazing entertainment, look into the short films below. Not a single one fails to impress!
Tonight I Strike is a brief tale of loyalty, pursuit and revenge, as a young man finds himself tracking a small group of thugs who’ve kidnapped his younger sister. There’s a fine futuristic element to the film, and it proves to exceed expectations in the performance department. It isn’t long, but it is a well-assembled picture with a finale that will have your head hung low, shaking in a slowly on-setting shock that sticks to the psyche after the film has ended.
There’s nothing better than a story fueled by desperation and familial terror. The Surface gives us both, and blends science fiction and horror seamlessly. It almost feels like a monster movie, in a sense, as we see a frantic mother racing to obtain a power source that will keep her child alive. The problem comes in the fact that a cyborg-like creature has the power source, and he’s got good reason to need it, as well. Beautifully shot apocalyptic horror works well in feature length format, and you can best believe it works well as a short film, as well.
There’s probably very little reason to talk about Neill Blomkamp’s Zygote. Most have already jumped to check it out, and what they got for their time and attention is a beautiful nod to John Carpenter’s, The Thing. It’s fast-paced, features authentic set pieces, a kick ass, uber-weird monster and two stellar performances from convincing tough guy, Jose Pablo Cantillo and child phenom turned grown woman phenom, Dakota Fanning. It’s true must-see greatness, especially if you dig monster movies.
The Fisherman is a throwback monster movie in the greatest of ways. It’s built around a hardheaded but wildly relatable everyman trying to make a living fishing, and he alone makes the film a worthy watch. Factor in an amazing monster and an all-out war on the world and what you’ve got is potential greatness. What truly pushes it completely over the precipice of genius is the highly refined aesthetic value of the production. It looks gorgeous, and even the CGI is far superior to that which we see in high profile, commercial releases. Alejandro Suárez Lozano has crafted an unforgettable piece of film.
Firebase is the second Neill Blomkamp picture to be featured on this list, and it comes our way courtesy of the obviously fan-friendly and immediately successful Oats Studios. The film drops viewers right smack dab in the center of the war in Vietnam, which alone is a relatively fresh approach. The fact that the film comes loaded with stunning practical effects and some extremely satisfying digital work boosts the stock immediately, and the story itself, which introduces soldiers to an entirely new kind of threat doesn’t hurt the production in the least. It’s a sublime picture, and it needs to be seen by anyone who can confidently call themselves a fan of horror or science fiction.
Unlike the other films on this list, What’s Up Bro? doesn’t have a lot of money dumped into the production and it lacks any really stimulating visuals or camera work. It’s a shoestring piece of work that probably didn’t take an enormous effort to complete, and, it even comes with a cliché conclusion. However, the story is great. It’s a familiar idea with a familial spin that leaves a knot in the belly, so it’s an easy little picture to recommend. Sometimes less can be more, and this is one of those rare times there aren’t too many bells and whistles needed. I would have liked to see a more creative conclusion, but the script and the concept earn big points and the film is a fine way to pass seven minutes.
The Jigsaw is nothing short of brilliant, and certainly ranks among the greatest additions on this list. It’s well-shot, has some of the greatest sound mixing I’ve ever heard in a short film and even features a pair of elderly gents who prove to be fine performers. The concept – a man buys a puzzle that, unbeknownst to him, he wants no part of – is refreshing, eerie and flawlessly executed. I’m not too familiar with the work of the Al-Safar Brothers, but this little picture has me itching to see more!
And finally, we’re going to close this list out with yet another Neill Blomkamp film, Rakka. Arguably the bleakest of his new trio, Rakka pits man versus alien in an engrossing feud for survival and supremacy. The special effects are again amazing, and this time around the great Sigourney Weaver shows up to prove she’s still a bad ass, even if she is a bit older, and a bit more collected. There’s an awesome District 9 vibe to the pic, but it’s certainly a story all its own. Now all we need is the full length film!
Editor’s Note: Since the writing of this article, D.C. contributor Matt Molgaard has passed on. It’s an honor for us to share his final insights with you all. He will be sorely missed.