SHORT BLOCKS #5 OUT OF THE WOODS
Mateo (Fernando Perezgil, Mexico)
We always see zombies are primitive, their previous cognitive abilities gone after they became the undead. With Mateo, the lead character is trapped in his own mind while unable to control his now undead motor skills, much like Parkinson’s. As he shambles around, Mateo contemplates whether this plague is nature’s way of solving the parasite of mankind, and why his true understanding of life has come too late. A somber film that mimics the thoughts one can have in their final days.
The Girl in the Woods (Laura Kulik, USA)
The premise is a woman finds herself stranded in a remote forest following a car accident. There’s danger in this forest that leads her to a sad end. Good tension in this one although I’d would’ve enjoyed more interaction with what she came across in those woods.
NOM (Angel Hernandez Suarez, Spain)
Getting older is humbling, especially when you’re an athlete. NOM introduces to an aging cyclist who’ll do anything to resurrect the stamina of his youth — even going as far as draining the life force from his younger peers. You could make a convincing case for using this film as a metaphor for steroid abuse. I certainly thought of Lance Armstrong while watching.
Ten Shots (Gordon Shoemaker, USA)
Not every woman needs saving and it’s always best to mind your business. Those two thoughts will be simmering in your head after watching Ten Shots. A hunter comes across an apparent execution but soon realizes his intervention was a terrible choice in aiding the wrong side. We get most the action through the lenses of the hunter’s sniper scope, which adds a level of frenetic intimacy. And much credit to Lindsay Mushett, who plays the antagonist known simply as The Girl. Her wild-eyed, feral fury makes you fear for the hunter and he’s the one with the gun!
Off Grid (Carl Timms, UK)
With a supernatural threat ravaging humanity, an old man named John Tanner (James Cosmo, Game of Thrones) takes his sick wife to a remote location for safety. From there, he’s ready to fiercely protect her. But when John meets a drifter, we begin to question the former’s sanity and the extent of this so-called threat. At 20 minutes, this ran a bit long for my taste, but Cosmo’s acting helps keep things steady.
Lailah (Nicholas deKay, USA)
Behind every good man lurks a woman with super powers. Lailah and Thomas are living in a post-apocalyptic world and at odds with a local warlord. We think Thomas is Lailah’s protector, but find out he’s trying to save everyone else from seeing her power unleashed. Lots of hand to hand fighting which has been rare at this festival and surprisingly good special effects with bullets.
Lurker (Martin Bennett, USA)
This was one where more time would’ve been helpful. At two minutes, the tension didn’t hit with the main character being sacrificed within a forest. I did like the depiction of the lurkers.
Weee Wooo (Charlie Mcwade, USA)
A Quiet Place showed what could be done with the absence of sound. This film gives us a setting where a woman loses her hearing overnight… except the a mysterious calling noise that’s leading her deep into the woods. We never get an explanation for the hearing loss, which makes it all the more creepy when we find out what is making those sounds.
STALAG III-C (Jason Rogan, Belarus)
You gotta have some budget to get an actual tank in your short film. This tale takes us back to the final days of World War II where a US paratrooper is leading a daring escape from a Nazi POW camp. Along the way, zombies show up to make the escape even more daunting. The biggest strength is the authentic feel of the set pieces which make you feel like you’re watching an actual feature.