Dread Central is back again with another roundup of short films from the Creepy Christmas Film Festival. Each week this month we’ve covered artist Beck Underwood’s passion project, featuring a short film each day on the festival website. The “digital advent calendar” has brought forth everything from stop-motion to music videos, to this week’s shadowplay and action figure mashup, all under the thematic umbrella of a creepy Christmas. All of these shorts are still available to view on the film’s website for free. Check out what this week brought us:
14. Miss Millie – Dir. Chris Skotchdopole
The holidays aren’t easy for everyone, but Chris Skotchdopole (who recently co-produced festival favorite The Ranger) makes light of the loneliness in his seven-minute short Miss Millie. The title character is an obnoxious woman desperate for some company for the holidays, played by the writer-director himself affecting his best SNL Linda Richman accent. Miss Millie her sights on her unassuming tenant maintenance man, with the result being a creepy but goofy bit of fun for all.
15. Wild Ride – Dir. Larry Fessenden
If you’re a horror fan, then you likely recognize and worship Larry Fessenden like the rest of us. For the uninitiated, Fessenden is the CEO of the production house Glass Eye Pix and director of indie horror films like Wendigo, Habit, and Beneath, in addition to dipping his toes into nearly every medium imaginable as a champion of
16. Under the Christmas Tree – Dir. Jenn Wexler
The director who brought you this year’s punk-horror slasher The Ranger (if you haven’t caught it yet, it’ll be on Shudder in early 2019) has a bit of beef with Santa Claus. Jenn Wexler freely admits that Under The Christmas Tree is her own cheeky processing of holiday resentment:
“My family’s Jewish so I didn’t get to celebrate Christmas as a kid. But I believed in Santa so would try to stay up all night and watch out the window to see if he and his reindeer landed on the house across the street from mine. My prompt ‘Jingle Bells’ reminded me of those nights, as I fought off sleep, hoping to hear his sleigh. I never saw him, but I did build up a lot of resentments towards the guy for not including me in his rounds. This is me trying to work through them!”
Bonus: Santa Claus is credited as Himself.
17. Ms. Claus – Dir. Graham Reznick
Have you caught Deadwax on Shudder yet? Graham Reznick’s cosmic noire series has been compared to the works of David Lynch in terms of tone, aural assault, and general what-in-tarnation-ery. That m.o. continues with Ms. Claus, in which Reznick hangs his own ticking time bomb score over your head like a sprig of mistletoe and serves up a series of butterfly kiss images mixing the sweet and the disturbing. I can’t put my finger on why, but this one is a favorite that sticks with you days after watching it.
18. Wrapped – Dir. The Lower Eastside Girls Club (Ayianna, Paris, Noelia, Clari, Brooke, Laila, Beatrix, Sam, Iyannah, Fanta, Keisy, Lisa, Kurtina, Haydee, Elsa, Taylor, Shanai)
Wrapped is the product of The Lower Eastside Girls Club, a creative collective of sorts. According to the CCF website, the LEGC is “…a 35,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art science, technology, arts and humanities lab for teenage girls and their families. Tucked away on the edge of Manhattan Island off Avenue D. is a little slice of urban magic: a Center for Community filled with budding leaders in all fields- scientists, photographers, designers, animators, filmmakers, podcasters, activists, astronomers, dancers, writers, chefs, and future politicians.”
Under the tutelage of Kelly Adams, Andrea Betanzos and Beck Underwood, the young women of the LEGC mix live-action and animation to issue a warning not to steal, lest your crime comes back to haunt you. It’s a heartwarming treat (even in a creepy advent calendar) to see today’s filmmakers encourage the next generation of storytellers.
19. Love, Cheryl – Dir. Devin Febbroriello
Love, Cheryl follows an evil stepmother who loathes every well-meaning gift her stepdaughter creates, loathes her stepdaughter, and attempts to…take care of the problem. Writer-director Devin Febroriello (lead producer of Serpent Power Productions) had “Toys” as her prompt, and got the bulk of her inspiration from seeing “a step mom hand wash an ugly homemade platter.” Love, Cheryl is filled with dark humor and its heel-turn ending wraps a nice crisp bow on the short entire.
20. Night Before – Dir. Susan Kae Grant, Richard Klein, and Richard Krawl
Using beautiful in-studio shadowplay and the simple prompt “Icicle”, Texas filmmakers Susan Kae Grant, Richard Klein, and Richard Krawl successfully undermine the innocence and comfort of the night before Christmas. On the CCF website: “As the story evolves the shadow is used to suggest a world of duplicity, trickery, and pretense through the eyes of both child and adult.”
It’s less than a week until Christmas, what are the standouts for you? Let us know in the comments below!