SHORT BLOCKS 2: “BURY THE HATCHET”
Day 3 of the Buried Alive Film Festival kicked off with a block of short films dedicated to closure… gory and otherwise.
Don’t Touch (Craig Law, USA)
The world would be a much better place if there were dire consequences for touching someone else’s laundry. This short handles that perfectly by showing us how a monster living in an apartment’s communal laundry room handles laundry violators. Considering the subject, this one doesn’t take itself too seriously and makes great use of lively colors and a cool monster reveal.
Crossing (Ruslan Bosenko, Russia)
A heartbroken father is seeking revenge on the man he believes killed his daughter. The only surefire description is a scorpion tattoo on the man’s shoulder. Clocking in at 20 minutes, the director has time to play around with different themes of retribution, the debilitating mental effects of guilt and how that leads to a unreliable narrator by story’s end. There’s a memorable confrontation on a small boat in the middle of the lake that makes for this short’s best scene.
Imaginary Portrait (Felipe Martinez Carbonell, Argentina)
Abused by her father and grandfather, a mentally disturbed young girl reaches out to her dead mother for revenge. Very polished shots convey the a tension-filled household with nearly all the abuse implied but clear. As with the last short, we have an unreliable narrator which makes you question if we’re witnessing true supernatural karma, a fatal mental break or both.
Green Cobra (Sigurd Culhane, USA)
Look, all of us can’t afford to regularly see a therapist. So, you may have to work on your issues in your spare time. If you’re lucky, you may get to even do it at work, like the hitman aka “Life Ending Technician” found in this film. Part mockumentary, the Green Cobra humorously recounts her career path and how she tortures victims while stapling pictures of her ex’s on them. Whatever it takes for quality mental health!
Breathing Hole (Lee jae-seok, Korea)
Without question, the most controversial film of the festival (and that’s saying a lot). Billed as a true story from the director’s first-hand experience, a home invasion results in a man’s wife being assaulted. The man then begins a journey of self-discovery through revisiting past liaisons, leading to further blurred lines of love and death. Nothing is spared from the viewer’s eyes and we witness very uncomfortable scenes of sexual assault. It’s hard to believe everything we’re watching is occuring in the real world, so immediately you start to question man’s mental state and it further opens up the story for debates on how we as men treat our partners (sexually and emotionally), our responses to rejection, jealously and preceived attacks on our masculinity.
The only film thus far that left the audience completely stunned.
The Foul (James Button, UK)
Pick up after your dog or you may just run into… the Poop Fairy! This hilarious public service announcement finds a young man being stalked by a life-sized, talking dog poop after failing to clean up after his dog. Think of the poop as a cross between South Park’s Mr. Hankey and Jim Carrey’s version of the Grinch.
Don’t Fail Me (Avril Che, USA)
From the avant-doom band Dead Register comes a rare cardboard puppet/ music video about a merciless cowboy avenging the kidnapping of his girl by “crab people.” A psychedelic ride that starts off seemingly light-hearted and builds to a fiery and bloody conclusion. This short was done with just three people and inspired by all the down time most had when covid first hit. Check out more of Dead Register’s music on their official website and bandcamp.
Disembodies (Jason Sheedy, USA)
A VFX extravaganza! A lovelorn man buys a novelty meteorite that houses a parasitic entity which turns his home into a house of horrors. These warped images include meteors and stars floating outside his front door and a literal floor cracking earthquake in his living room. The best scene is when the protagonist is briefly transported to a forest meeting with the entity disguised in the skin of his fondest connections (last girlfriend and dearly departed dog).
Feature Film: What Happens Next Will Scare You (Chris LaMartina, USA)
The creative team behind 2013’s WNUF Halloween Special returns with this offbeat anthology What Happens Next Will Scare You. We’re introduced to the Click Clique, a company that specializes in aggregated web content. With the business struggling, a meeting is called where the writers must present the scariest and creepiest web videos they can find for a Halloween article.
Horror anthologies like this are a highly useful tool in allowing writers to experiment with disparate tones and themes. However, the big risk is having one style severely outshining the others. What Happens Next… is at its best with the offerings that lean more towards the creepy than the outright supernatural or monster clips that needed stronger special effects. Mr. Tickles, the serial killer clown from “Camcoder Cupid,” was frightening enough in his scenes to make John Wayne Gacy uncomfortable. Another standout was the final 911 call of funeral director George O’Bannon, which captures the best of the true crime disappearance cases that capture the imagination of Reddit sleuths.
If you enjoyed the VHS series, What Happens Next Will Scare You is in the same vein but with more light-hearted clips and direct commentary on our clickbait culture and the overconsumption of social media.
Ghost Dogs (Joe Cappa, USA)
A rescue pup enters a new home filled with ominous, human-like deceased pets. The animation is reminiscent of Adult Swim style shows and aims to not give the dog human responses to supernatural encounters. This makes for some quirky moments like when the dog sees a creepy shrine of bones and decides to gnaw on it rather than flee. Do dogs see dead people? We’ll never know, but this short shows they can handle themselves just fine.
Fucking Ghosts (Jason Cook, USA)
Hey, ghosts have needs too. This parody flick finds a couple buying a new home built on the grounds of a brothel. That leads to their current problem of being haunted by horny ghosts who love to copulate everywhere (Spoiler: Ghost wet spots are not pleasant). Pure absurdity with this one and highly original.