Three minutes isn’t a long time. It’s barely enough time to boil an egg. But Shortcuts to Hell II gives budding filmmakers exactly that amount of time to impress their panel of judges.
So it only seems fair we give ourselves the same time limit to talk about them.
The prize for the final three films in the 2014 competition? A premiere at FrightFest, which returns to London’s Leicester Square this week. There, a public vote will decide the winner, who will get £20,000 to turn it into a feature with producers Movie Mogul and Wildseed Studios – and premiere it at FrightFest 2015.
This year, the shortlist of 23 finalists are now available to stream exclusively on TheHorrorShow.tv. Can’t make it to Leicester Square? Get a taste of the bloody ideas out there in a feature-length anthology for just £2.99 – along with a behind-the-scenes look at the judging process.
It’s a fascinating bundle of gory fun, some amusing, some shocking and some downright freaky – and, at only 180 seconds apiece, even if some may seem overly familiar or unfunny, this whistlestop tour of new talent has a short enough attention span to keep you on your toes.
We round up some up our favourites.
Shortcuts to Hell II gets off to a strong start with this cute, quirky tale. Self-moving chess pieces are impressive enough, but the superb sets and production design combined with the low-tech ghost effects (one wears a bin bag over his head with a white mask stuck on the front) makes for a unique little gem.
How many times have you shouted at someone and said you wished they were dead? Dealmaker takes that to distubring extremes – without ever really showing you anything. From the subtly overlaid title on the floor of a hallway, this tale of a young girl lets its reveal creep up on you in a dimly lit corridor.
Haunted knives a bad, mmmkay? If you don’t believe us, wait and see what this unsettling child actor can do with one.
A neat pairing with Somniloquy, this look at control – and lack of control – over nightmares proves all you need to make you squirm is someone talking directly to the camera. Good dialogue, excellent performance, little sleep afterwards.
(Our fingers are starting to hurt at this point)
The Last Dead End
In a sea of live action, grim entries, this animation is a stunning sight. A collage of black and white ink drawings, the story of a soldier and a femme fatale doesn’t have any dialogue – and doesn’t need it. The atmosphere seeps up through the shadowy scratches, from a grainy chandelier swinging in the gloom to a coffin drenched in red. Fantastic.
The Dead Line
Guns. Undead. A London Tube carriage. Superb production values. Why hasn’t this been done before? The Dead Line shoots up to the top of the pile.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer – but a bloke. That sentiment seems to inspire a couple of shorts in this year’s collection, but Dead City comes out as the one you remember, its pseudo Raymond Chandler air delivered with an enjoyably grizzled sense of danger. More please.
It’s not often you get a chance to see female horror filmmakers, but Jules Rampton’s Weekend is an impressively simple scare: jump cuts disguise basic moving objects extremely effectively, leaving a spooky voice to remind us that often what you don’t see haunts you more than the things you do.
Talent is as much about embracing your limitations as it is overcoming them – and Containment is a perfect example. The only of the 23 films to use its three-minute time limit as defining feature, we see three people locked in a room and told one is infected. The result may seem a bit like The Thing, but that countdown has you gripped for 180 seconds.
And there you have it – a cheap collection of unique films, each one showing just how much skill it takes to produce something in under 3 minutes without running out of
To stream the full Shortcuts to Hell II anthology, visit TheHorrorShow.tv.