I caught twelve short films at Cinepocalypse 2018. Nine of them were in the short film block and three played before features. As happens with every festival, the selection of films was a real mixed bag, but a handful of shorts stood out from the rest. If any of these shorts are playing at a festival you’re attending, they are worth checking out.
This was a very polished piece of work that gets across its high-concept time travel paradox idea very quickly. While the subject matter and where the story goes is nothing new, writer/director Eric Kleifield injects a real feeling of paranoia and desperation to his film that is aided by a good performance from Blaine Vedros.
THE DAUGHTERS OF VIRTUE
A prayer meeting by a gathering of housewives who haughtily refer to themselves as the titular collective goes sideways as writer/director Michael Escobedo slowly ramps up the tension with a look inspired by ’70s horror films. Maria Olsen is memorably mean as the leader of the group with some beliefs in punishment that are more than a little Old Testament in nature. This one ends on a great, darkly funny punchline.
There is something admirable about the willingness of STAY to go to some very dark and mean places in pursuit of an original wrinkle in the “summoning a demon” storyline. That is not to say that all of the turns that writer/director David Mikalson throws at the screen work (the ending feels like it went for absolute darkness as opposed to a more appropriately funny conclusion), but I enjoyed the deadpan style to the comedy and how quickly events escalated.
This one almost feels like the purely comedic version of STAY. Writer/director Izzy Lee’s tale of a dissatisfied woman (Brea Grant) putting up with her meathead husband (Adam Egypt Mortimer) and a monster that howls outside her window every night as Christmas approaches is light, funny, and has a great ending. Plus, the monster design and makeup is great.
I really enjoyed this takedown of people my age who nostalgically obsess over the minutiae of their childhoods until an overly mean-spirited ending spoiled some of the fun. Still, it is worth seeing for its clever concept, even if the execution of that concept gets shaky and falls apart by the end.
THE BLOODY BALLAD OF SQUIRT REYNOLDS
Silly spoof of slasher flicks makes this list for one really inspired gore gag. You’ll know it when you see it.
This is nothing more than a quick joke aimed at grammar nerds, but as a believer in the use of the Oxford comma, I found it hilarious. It was a perfect button on the end of the short films block.
–Matt Wedge (@MovieNerdMatt)
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Tags: Adam Egypt Mortimer, Blaine Vedros, Brea Grant, Cinepocalypse 2018, David Mikalson, Eric Kleifield, Izzy Lee, Mainline, Maria Olsen, Michael Escobedo, My Monster, Oxford Coma, short films, Spell Claire, Stay, The Bloody Ballad of Squirt Reynolds, The Daughters of Virtue