To further celebrate new streaming service ARROW Player, check out everything you need to know in our other post (and sign up for a great 50% off your first three months), we’re highlighting some of the finest short films on the platform with ARROW Shorts, are you ready? Premiering on the new player, these excellent short films showcase the very best new film talents delivering a bite-sized nugget of thrills and kills!
Last June, Arrow Video launched a Horror Lockdown Short Film Competition asking budding auteurs to submit Covid-era horror shorts. With over 150 outstanding entries, the submissions were whittled down to the Best Ten and judged by cult directors (and Critical Popcorn favourites) Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (Synchronic, The Endless), who said the films are “better than they have any right to be!”
From today, you can see all Short Film finalists on ARROW at www.ARROW-Player.com. The chillers, delving into oft-charted and bizarre worlds, are resourceful, timely, slick, scary and socially distanced. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect…
WHEN TOYS ATTACK!
A foul mouthed teddy bear with ideas above his station? No, we’re not talking about the Mark Wahlberg comedy Ted, but the overall winner of the Horror Lockdown Shorts contest, Toys, directed by James Cookson – a brilliantly bleak look at what a nihilistic teddy bear has in store when he decides the world adults have created must be destroyed. It’s a reverse Toy Story, that’ll have parents reaching for a bin bag and heading to the recycling centre.
AN ANGRY ANIMATED ARMCHAIR
Billy Hiller’s animation Silent & Deadly features a disgruntled claymation reclining armchair, suffering the indignity of being replaced after years of being farted on – and he’s not going to take it lying down. Here is a film that finally gives chairs a voice! This wouldn’t look out of place in the ABCs of Death films, and will make you think twice about taking your furniture for granted as you settle down to watch the rest of the shorts.
THE ULTIMATE MAKEOVER
The marvellously macabre and unexpected body horror UnTooned starts off like an innocent vlog as a young woman recounts her love of the cartoon character Tommy. Sounds harmless enough… except, well, the last ten seconds of this one minute short will send you reeling. Director Ken Cohen has made over 20 short films, including the acclaimed animation Her Lips Are Mine (2019), and the award winning Skin Baby (2018), about a tattoo that comes to life.
A MINI MIDSOMMAR
The strikingly eerie The Wedding Ritual sees a woman in the woods, in a wedding dress, tied to a tree. We’re guessing this isn’t the happiest day of her life after all. Sheet covered figures approach, presumably not for the group photograph. Simple, elegantly staged, and fitting into the mould of ‘folk horror’ in miniature, Alex Hitrenko‘s short features a final reveal that will haunt you for nights.
DON’T GO IN THE HOUSE!
The very creepy nerve-jangler Stagnant, winner of the Audience Award in the contest, is a cautionary tale to not go poking around where you shouldn’t. A balaclava clad figure attempts to break into a house at night – not reckoning on disturbing some rather unusual occupants. Directed by Ethan Evans and produced by Jess Bartlett, this is a mixture of Don’t Breathe and Night of the Living Dead, Stagnant manages to pack more frights into its under three minute running time than most full-length feature films.
A SPLIT SCREEN SHOCKER
Tom Hughes’ stylish split-screen shocker A Date with Death pays tribute to the giallo horror genre, as a relaxing evening turns into a gruesome nightmare bathed in red. With nods to Argento’s Suspiria (listen for the ringtone), this is a brilliantly brutal blast of nastiness, as a young woman settles in for the night with a glass of wine and a soothing bath – little realising there is someone else in the house with her.
The almost unbearably intense and nightmarish Insecticide, directed by Bryan M. Ferguson, features creepy crawlies, sound design and credits straight out of a David Fincher film, and a horribly prescient evocation of modern day paranoias. Ferguson has made numerous shorts, including the disturbing sci-fi video The Island for electronica band Ladytron, and has got dystopian future horror down to a tee. Turn the lights off, tape the windows shut, and enjoy Insecticide…
WHAT’S THAT SCRATCHING IN THE NIGHT?
Dominic Grose’s The Drawing is a macabre little spine-tingler with a payoff that’ll make you jump out of your skin – or rather, give you an art attack! With ghouls straight out of a demonic horror film, a setting that couldn’t be more innocuous but that turns very frightening very fast, and a palm-sweating sense of inevitable doom, The Drawing works a treat. Don’t leave pencils and paper lying around, because you never know what will happen.
DON’T COME VISIT
The mournful and moving The Garden, directed by Ian Cottage, starts with a webcam conversation between a locked down mother and daughter. It quickly becomes apparent something isn’t quite right in this five minute film that is soaked in dread. What makes the five minute film so effective is what is not said, and what is not shown – by leaving things deliberately ambiguous, Cottage makes The Garden a very uncomfortable place indeed.
BRINGING UP BABY
Night Feed is every parent’s worst fear realised… clocking in at one minute, William Allum’s superbly conceived short sees a baby put to bed for the night. But what is that lurking over the top of the cot…? Don’t ask! Allum, an award-winning short film maker, who has worked as a visual effects artist on films including Age of Kill and Bonded By Blood 2, brings his talents to bear here with an amazingly imaginative piece of visual trickery that is the stuff of nightmares.