My (Sickle) coverage of Fantastic Fest 2020 concludes with Short Fuse, a horror-oriented shorts block, and Efrit just closed out his coverage with the body horror drama, Bloodthirsty. It's been an awesome festival, and big thanks to Fantastic Fest and Alamo Draft House for putting it on! There were many great films and it definitely closed out on a high note! Let's get into the shorts:
Short Fuse Reviews
Blitzkrieg - A boy's mental state collapses as he's left home alone, becoming obsessed with a hole in the wall. These horror shorts, admittedly, did not start out on the strongest note for me. This short is ambiguous enough that it can be interpreted a number of different ways, the top of that list being a political commentary of some sort, but I like to think that it is about the manipulation of people through anxiety-inducing news reports. But the lack of clarity and any legitimate conclusion leaves me unsatisfied.
Abracitos - Two girls are trapped in a room with a malevolent entity. Perhaps the purest form of horror on this list, tension is built to a palpable level before the traditional short horror jump scare takes place. The atmosphere created by the tight, intentional shots and child actors is better executed than the scare itself, but still a powerful piece of short horror.
Fish Whiskers - Three girls find a weird looking fish while a presence lurks in the woods and an incident occurs in a nearby house. I was looking forward to this jagged, jumpy narrative coming to a head in which all is explained, but the point feels even less definitive in the final moments. It is creepy and unsettling, but also ambiguous and disjointed. It is a tale of a presence manipulating people? Is the twist that there is no connection? I'm not sure.
Milk Teeth - An orphan gives his teeth to a dark, tooth-fairy-like entity below the sink in order to get a higher return on his teeth. Easily my favorite short of the block (sans the classic Great Choice, of course), this gem tells a twisted story that has emotional weight while still being frightening and darkly humorous. It strikes perfectly on so many fronts, and it executes flawlessly in a climax that shows off great camera/editing skills and some fun practical effects.
Heat - A young woman walks into an ice cream parlor with unfortunate results. Very short and to the point, this disgusting short doesn't seem to have much of a point, but it's whacky with some fun body horror slapstick viscera.
Mime - A mime with reality-altering powers takes vengeance on a bunch of punks. I don't fully understand the final moments of the narrative, but I loved the underlying plot of a mime trying to find a way to connect with someone he likes. There were some moments of execution I felt could have been done better, but overall, this was a fun and quirky dark comedy.
Mourn - A psychiatrist gets an unexpected guest in the waning hours of her work day. This one had SO MUCH POTENTIAL, and it does execute to an extent, but there are just a few loose ends I wish would have been better condensed into the script. The slow reveal through their dialogue was great, there were just a few pieces missing in the final reveal for me.
Otttie - A doctor comes home to his wife and to a terrifying realization. The most standardized of the horror shorts, it sets up a scene and delivers a scare. It executes well and is entertaining from a basics of horror standpoint, but offers little else.
Stuck - A woman who runs a gymnastics class takes vengeance upon a predator who infiltrates the gym. There was something missing from a short that is otherwise gruesomely perfect. Something in the editing and cinematography creates a drag in the delivery for a script and execution that is otherwise a horror comedy joy.
The Three Men You Meet at Night - The title is pleasantly self-explanatory on what to expect from this tale, as it gives a glimpse into what women have to deal with on any given night out. The story told is wonderfully executed, keeping tension high without falling into some slasher cliche, instead letting a simple, yet necessary message resonate.
Great Choice - An instant classic that Efrit and I had the pleasure of seeing at Telluride Horror Show a couple of years back, Great Choice is about a woman who is stuck in an ever-looping Red Lobster commercial. The dark humor is equally disturbing and hilarious, while it twists into a somber message at the end. A fantastic example of what shorts are capable of.
Every shorts block has its hits and misses, and despite those misses here, it was an excellent curation of shorts that did a great job of scratching that horror itch! Thanks again to Fantastic Fest and Alamo Draft House for the amazing digital festival!